Tracking the politics of fear....  

Against the long history of huge temperature variation in the earth's climate (ice ages etc.), the .6 of one degree average rise reported for the entire 20th century by the United Nations (a rise so small that you would not be able to detect such a difference personally without instruments) shows in fact that the 20th century was a time of exceptional temperature stability.

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30 April, 2007

"Footprint" stupidity

Herbert Girardet taught planners about the human footprint idea when he estimated that London's footprint was 125 times its surface area, or about three hectares per person - an estimate that he says today was half what it should be. Girardet has been active in the environmental movement for more than 30 years, making documentary films and working with the United Nations and the New Economics Foundation to draw attention to the depletion of natural resources (1).

I took issue with Girardet's human footprint idea last year. In his account book for London he has two columns, one headed `inputs' (oxygen, water, food and so on) and the second headed `wastes' (including CO2, SO2 and NOx). What happened to the positive output of cities: the industrial goods, the farm equipment and fertilisers, the iPods, Channel 4 documentaries and Anya Hindmarch bags? These do not feature in the estimation of the human footprint. The very concept of the human footprint abstracts from humankind's positive, productive side, and reduces all output to pollution or waste (2).

Missing out the productive side of human output leads to a miscalculation of the human footprint. That is because although the input of consumer goods does indeed increase, so too does resource productivity. Or to put that in ordinary language, we get more from less. That is especially true of land. With the application of science to agriculture, grain yields increase, which has meant that even though we consume more year on year, the area under the plough has been decreasing since 1981. Far from being under pressure, more land is being freed up all the time. In area terms, that means the human footprint is actually shrinking (3).

The original idea of the human footprint is taken from two related concepts: sustainability and carrying capacity. `Sustainability' refers to the limits on non-renewable resources. It was first used about Halibut stocks in the Pacific that were being fished by Japanese and American fleets (4). `Carrying capacity' is the land's capacity to carry more or less people. It was first used by the colonial authorities in Northern Rhodesia to warn against population growth among black Africans - a particular concern of the white settlers (5). In both cases the mean-spirited interest in limits arose because those resources were the prize in a social conflict. That you could farm fish, or that settlers and natives did not need to fight over land, was beyond the terms of the debate.

The impact of the visualisation of the human footprint in Channel 4's documentary is remarkable. What surprises us is the scale of the human endeavour. It is a kind of solipsism not to understand that human beings really are very productive indeed. In the 1940s it was common for documentary filmmakers to show work processes that create the goods we consume. But the loss of interest in working life means that we rarely see `how milk gets to your doorstep' (or supermarket) today. Instead we see the reverse side - how the rubbish piles up in the landfill.

The paradox is that people's lives are secured by enlarging their ecological footprint, not reducing it. The greater the metabolism between man and nature, the larger are human possibilities, and therefore security increases. Resource efficiency does not come from limiting industry, but from expanding it.


Anti-malarial bed nets: the $10 insult

Giving nets rather than DDT to Africans sends a powerfully paternalistic message: `You can hide from disease, but you cannot eradicate it.' And mosquitoes don't bite during the day, of course

These days there is a special `day' for just about everything. So you can be forgiven if you missed that yesterday was Africa Malaria Day. Not Malaria Day, you will notice, but Africa Malaria Day. The reason it is called Africa Malaria Day is because in the developed West malaria no longer poses much of a problem. Southern Mediterranean countries, such as Italy, where hot and humid conditions would normally be a fertile breeding ground for malarial mosquitoes, have been malaria-free for more than 60 years (1). Yet the tool that rooted out malaria in the developed world - the mosquito-bashing pesticide DDT - is not considered fit for Africa today. So this Africa Malaria Day we were all encouraged to buy an African a bed net as the next best (environmentally-friendly) thing.

Buying a bed net might make you - and the celebrities who endorse the bed net campaign - feel good about yourselves. But it also sends a powerful message to Africans about their place in the scheme of things: that is, at the bottom, where the most they can hope for is to put a charity-donated flimsy shield between them and their harsh environment, rather than to transform their environment.

In America, Africa Malaria Day was big this year. The First Lady, Laura Bush, has been heading a campaign to encourage every American to donate $10 to buy an anti-malarial bed net for an African child through the charities Nothing But Nets and Malaria No More. International celebrities have also been marshalled to help spread awareness about the cause. At the suggestion of screenwriter Richard Curtis (of Comic Relief and Love, Actually fame), music mogul Simon Fuller allowed campaigners to ask for contributions on two episodes of his hit show American Idol. Titled `Idol Gives Back', the shows featured celebrities such as pop star Gwen Stefani and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen pleading for money to help charities supporting the victims of Hurricane Katrina and to purchase anti-malarial nets for African kids.

The economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs outlined his own case for anti-malarial nets in a poetic article for Time magazine titled `The $10 solution': `Listen for a moment to the beautiful and dignified voices of Africa's mothers. Despite their burdens of poverty and hunger, they will tell you not of their endless toil but of their hopes for their children. But softly, ever so softly, they will also recount the children they have lost, claimed by a sudden fever, children who died in their arms as they were carried in a desperate half-day's journey by foot from the village to the nearest clinic.' This, says Sachs, is `the ineffable sadness of malaria'. `Another African child has died of malaria since you started reading this article', he writes. `Perhaps two million children in all will succumb this year.' (2)

That millions die from malaria in the developing world every year is an obscenity - especially when we know that DDT has a very high success rate in obliterating mosquitoes. Will bed nets stop the scourge of malaria? Sachs, like Laura Bush, like Richard Curtis (whose `Red Nose Day' appeals on British TV earlier this year were also saturated with calls from celebs for more anti-malarial nets for Africa), argues that in order to cure Africa's malaria problem, `We should bring forth armies of Red Cross volunteers to distribute bed nets and to offer village-based training for tens of thousands of villages across Africa.'

Many in the developed world are no doubt greatly concerned about disease in Africa. But if we did swamp Africa with nets, how many children (not to mention adults) would be saved? According to Sachs, every 100 nets save the life of one African child a year. However, every net has to be replaced after four years, because the pesticides wear out, rendering the net useless. So sending a net to Africa is a $10 dollar `solution' that eventually wears out and which doesn't actually kill off malarial mosquitoes, instead just keeping them at bay (hopefully).

There is a reason why the West is no longer infested with malarial insects and why deaths from malaria are virtually zero. It's because over half a century ago we sprayed everything down with DDT. DDT is not very popular nowadays; it has become an anathema to environmentalists. In the Sixties and Seventies, various environmentalists raised concerns about the impact of DDT on wildlife. In her 1962 book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson claimed that DDT harmed birds of prey and their eggs.

Following intense lobbying, DDT was banned in America in 1972 by the Environment Protection Agency and its use was severely restricted in Europe. This had a big impact on its use in countries in Latin America and Africa. And all of this happened despite the fact that, as the campaign group Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM) points out, where heavy use of DDT in agricultural settings did occasionally cause harm to birds of prey, that harm subsequently `proved reversible', and `after 50 years of study there is not one replicated study that shows any harm to humans at all'.

Indeed, last year the World Health Organisation (WHO) `reversed a 30-year policy by endorsing the use of DDT for malaria control' (3). WHO explained that there is no health risk for humans from DDT. Dennis Avery of AFM estimates that, `The absence of DDT has led to the needless deaths of at least 30million people from malaria and yellow fever in the tropics' (4). Dr Roger Bate, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and former chairman of AFM, tells me that although bed nets can help in combating malaria, `if they rip or if you don't go to bed early enough or if you get up in the night, you can get bitten'. Bate favours Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) with DDT. `The fixation on nets stems from opposition to IRS', he says.

Although African countries tended to make DDT their first choice in fighting malaria, many of them discontinued DDT-use because some aid agency funding was made contingent on their adoption of other, more environmentally friendly sprays. According to BBC News: `South Africa was one country that switched, but it had to return to DDT at the beginning of [the 2000s] after mosquitoes developed resistance to the substitute compounds.' Arata Kochi, director of WHO's Global Malaria Programme, says that `of the dozen insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house-spraying, the most effective is DDT' (5).

Put in blunt terms, DDT is proven to be successful in the fight against malarial mosquitoes, and the environmentalist campaign against DDT has proved disastrous for millions of Africans. And now some of the same campaigners are telling Africans that they should combat malaria with bed nets instead. However, as well as being far more unreliable than a large-scale and targeted pesticide-spraying campaign - because, as Bate points out, people in Africa do not spend all their time in bed hiding from the world - the whole concept of using pesticide-soaked nineteenth-century colonial-style net curtains is regressive. What it effectively says to Africans is that you cannot eradicate disease, you can only protect yourself from it. You cannot change the world outside your front door - a world that consists of far too much disease and poverty - but you can put up a barrier, albeit a sometimes unreliable one, between you and that world.

The symbolism of the bed nets is striking - the focus is on protection from hardship rather than on getting rid of that hardship, as many of us in the developed world have done. The idea that Africans must hide behind a charity-bought veil for their whole lives, rather than buying a tank full of DDT and killing the pests that threaten to kill them, is inherently patronising. Like the buy-a-goat-for-Christmas schemes, the `insecticide-impregnated bed net' scheme is helping to ensure that Africa's development remains retarded, while allowing we in the comfortable West to feel good about having Done Something.

Fundamentally, the net-based scheme to save the children of Africa won't work. DDT, on the other hand, might. The charity nets are not a $10 solution; they're a $10 insult.


We're not to blame, says expert

The United States' leading hurricane forecaster says global ocean currents, not human-produced carbon dioxide, are responsible for global warming. William Gray, a Colorado State University researcher, also said the Earth may begin to cool on its own in five to 10 years. Speaking to a group of Republican MPs, Dr Gray had harsh words for researchers and politicians who said man-made greenhouse gases were responsible for global warming. "They are blaming it all on humans, which is crazy," he said. "We're not the cause of it."

Dr Gray said in the past 40 years the number of serious hurricanes making landfall on the US Atlantic coast had declined even though carbon dioxide levels had risen. He said increasing levels of carbon dioxide would not produce more, or stronger, hurricanes.

Dr Gray, 77, has long criticised the theory that heat-trapping gases generated by human activity are causing the world to warm. Earlier this month, he dubbed former US vice-president and 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore "a gross alarmist" for making the Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, which helped focus media attention on global warming.

Yesterday, Dr Gray said that politics and research into global warming had created "almost an industry" that had frightened the public and overwhelmed dissenting voices. He said research arguing that humans were causing global warming was "mush" based on unreliable computer models that could not possibly take into account the hundreds of factors that influenced the weather. He said little-understood ocean currents were behind a decades-long warming cycle, and disputed assertions that greenhouse gases could raise global temperatures as much as some scientists predicted. "There's no way that doubling CO2 is going to cause that amount of warming," he said. Dr Gray also said warming and cooling trends could not go on indefinitely and believed temperatures were beginning to level out after a very warm year in 1998.


The "Green" Vanity Fair

The cover of this month's Vanity Fair shows Leonardo DiCaprio standing on a glacier lagoon in Iceland alongside Knut, that cute polar bear cub from Berlin Zoo. The two celebrities (Knut has his own blog and TV show; the other one's an actor) did not actually meet each other, much less travel together for their `photo shoot' in Iceland. Rather they were brought together by the magic of photoshop, with Knut superimposed on to a shot of Leo on a glacier. Re-arranging imagery to create a certain impression might look stylish on the front cover of a magazine. However, it doesn't bode well for the magazine's contents.

On the inside cover, Vanity Fair declares `yes, we know, there are no polar bears in Iceland' - yet it justifies its photo-shopped fiction of Leo and the cub on an Icelandic glacier by arguing: `If current trends continue, there won't be any [polar bears] in Canada either.' Er, okay. Leaving aside the fact that some researchers say that polar bear numbers are actually quite healthy these days, how a photoshopped pic from Iceland is supposed to raise awareness about events in Canada is anyone's guess. Couldn't Vanity Fair be said to have created a convenient untruth with its latest front cover?

Vanity Fair is one of the jewels in the crown of American journalism. It publishes sometimes very good investigative and commentary pieces, mainly written by those opposed to the current Bush administration. Yet its green issue feels less open-minded; it does not open up debate but rather declares a simplistic war of green words against the Bushies' perceived failure to follow the environmentalist line as laid down by the likes of Al Gore.

Rather than putting forward convincing arguments about climate change, and the action required to deal with it, Vanity Fair's green issue comes across as a conspiracy theory about the Bush administration. In a piece titled `Texas Chainsaw Management' by Robert F Kennedy Jr - which examines the `revolving door' between Washington and big business - there is little more than a summary of who has worked in which institution, when they worked there, and who they tried to influence. Drawing such links, without putting forth a convincing political argument against the activities of these various individuals and groups, smacks of lazy journalism and even conspiracy-mongering.

Editor Graydon Carter claims that the world's scientific community is now `in almost universal agreement that human activity is accelerating global warming'. He cites the Spring report by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, there is much scientific disagreement over the rates of and effects of human activity on global warming, and over what we should do about warming. Indeed, the very concept of a `scientific universal agreement' is not in keeping with the traditional critical standards of science. As James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky have pointed out on spiked: `Science thrives on verification and falsifiability. Any consensus is always open to challenge - that is the spirit of the scientific method. Of course, there is a consensus that gravity exists and that the Earth is round. But in these cases we are talking about scientific principles that have been tested experimentally again and again over centuries. Climate science is not quite that definitive.' (See A man-made morality tale, by James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky.)

Carter argues that, on the question of climate change, the Bush presidency `has fallen so out of step with the rest of the Western world that it is nothing short of a national scandal'. He refers to the USA's refusal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the way that European Union countries are doing. Yet there is no unity in carbon-cutting among EU nation states; some are behind and others are ahead in the big race to cut emissions. Moreover, Vanity Fair fails to ask any critical questions about why certain EU states might be more willing to cut emissions (and to make a big deal of it) than, say, America or China; perhaps it is the most sluggish and tired economies that make an issue of reducing their carbon use, whereas more dynamic economies are unwilling to make such promises.

Vanity Fair seems less interested in critically exploring the contemporary politics of climate change than in adopting a lofty greener-than-thou approach. It features photographs of and articles on the new `Global Citizens', including Hollywood environmental activists, organic food producers, green-minded musicians, Sir Nicholas Stern (the UK government's economic adviser and author of a recent major climate change report), Prince Charles (yes, American greens love our mad heir), a businesswoman who makes `non-toxic clothing', an `enlightened hotelier' (as opposed to all those unenlightened hoteliers), and a bloke who writes novels about people who `destroy the Florida he loves'. They look less like serious politicos and more like a modern version of The Beautiful People, or perhaps ladies-who-lunch - that is, rich people with time to kill who take up charity work to make themselves feel more fulfilled.

Vanity Fair's front-cover eco-star, DiCaprio, stars in the forthcoming global warming documentary The 11th Hour. The magazine gushes about the actor `stepping forward to take the baton from Al Gore', as if he is some kind of environmental president-in-waiting.

What makes the green issue seem so, well, arid, is the absence of any lively discussion of how humans might work together to deal with climate change and improve the world while they're at it. Instead the magazine gives the distinct impression that there are lots of greedy and `unenlightened' people out there and it is up to the likes of DiCaprio or members of the Kennedy clan or hoteliers with sustainable pillow cases (ie, the wealthy and sensible) to show us the errors of our ways. Not surprisingly, this does not make for a good read; it's all a bit like being hit over the head with a rolled-up magazine rather than actually reading one.

There is some serious content. In his article `Jungle Law', VF's international correspondent William Langewiesche details the legal fight by an Ecuadorian man on behalf of 30,000 Amazon settlers and indigenous people against Chevron, the billion-dollar global company that exploits oil and gas reserves in 35 countries. The article says that Texaco (bought by Chevron) spent 30 years spilling 17million gallons of oil into the Amazon river and despoiling 1,700 square miles of Amazon rainforest. Only the naive could be surprised that big multinationals exploit local people and often despoil nature in their efforts to mine for oil and gas. But who does it help when big business is presented as the destroyer of nature and local Amazonians are depicted as the guardians of nature? Is that what Vanity Fair and other green campaigners really want for certain communities in Latin America? That they should live forever in harmony with nature, and their societies remain underdeveloped, natural, organic, hard work, at risk from the elements.?

Little mention is made of the scientific progress that has been made in environment clean-up technology - such as the new oil-spill clean-up skimmer, developed last year by scientists at the University of California-Santa Barbara, which removes nearly 100 per cent of the adhered oil with each rotation. Instead, in VF, spillages are looked upon as permanent blots on nature's landscape. These are in effect simplistic morality tales rather than serious investigations. There is a great deal to be said for Ecuadorians assuming more control over their natural resources and their lives, and improving their living standards in the process; yet in the eyes of many greens, indigenous peoples are the eternal victims of evil corporations and they need gracious and selfless campaigners from the West to highlight their plight and save them.

Myron Ebell, a global-warming sceptic who works at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), is the only contrary view included in VF's green issue. Yet even his points are neutered by the time you get to them. In his introduction to the magazine, editor Carter says that the sceptics' views are akin to the nonsense spouted by the Flat Earth Society. The interviewer of Ebell is said to have caught him in `full denial'; the d-word is used to depict the critics of the politics of climate change as sinners against a gospel truth. It's almost as if the magazine is showing off that it has had the `courage' to interview Ebell, while simultaneously telling readers that they don't have to read the interview because the guy is nuts.

A MORI poll in Britain at the end of last year found that 32 per cent of those surveyed knew little or nothing about the alleged threat of climate change, despite the fanfare of media coverage on the issue. It would seem that a lack of robust debate on the full spectrum of scientific and political issues around climate change has caused some people to switch off and think about other things instead. I doubt whether this celebrity-worshipping, self-congratulatory, unengaging, environmentalist-for-one-month issue of Vanity Fair will turn many readers back on to the debate about climate change.


Australia: The nuclear argument

With their usual adherence to high principle, the Left say that it is OK to mine uranium but not to use it!

Labor has attacked Prime Minister John Howard's plans for a nuclear energy industry in Australia, after its own national conference dumped a long-standing ban on new uranium mines. Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd's motion to scrap the 'no new mines' policy was passed by a slender 15 votes at the ALP national conference, with environment spokesman Peter Garret among those voting to maintain the ban.

But the move was overshadowed by Mr Howard's outlining of a future nuclear energy industry for Australia. Speaking at the Victorian Liberal Party conference, Mr Howard said Australia needed to rethink its energy production in the face of climate change, and the only feasible options were clean coal technology and nuclear power. "Part of the solution must be to admit the use, in years to come, of nuclear power," he said. "If we're fair dinkum about this climate change debate we have to open our minds to the use of nuclear power."

Shortly after the Labor conference vote Mr Garrett went on the offensive against Mr Howard's nuclear proposal. "He has plans for nuclear power plants to be dotted around this country," he said. "He's taking us down a road and a path which I think is very dangerous."

Mr Howard said the Government would invest in research on the setting up of a nuclear power industry while Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said legislative barriers would be removed. And Mr Macfarlane accused Labor of debating "last century's policy" on uranium mining.

Mr Garrett says he accepts the conference vote on uranium mines but others in the party are less happy. Some are angry with union leader and Federal candidate Bill Shorten, who linked the vote to support for Mr Rudd. "If you think that rolling the leader is a great idea then go ahead and vote for the Albanese-Garrett amendment," Mr Shorten told the debate. Critics of Mr Shorten say the tactic was immature, naive and damaging.

Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter says there will be no uranium mining in his state while he was in government. "I don't feel under any pressure whatsoever," he said. "The West Australian economy is powering ahead, we've got the highest economic growth figures and the lowest unemployment figures, we don't desperately need for economic reasons or any other reasons to pursue uranium mining."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


29 April, 2007


Ford Motor Company, fast losing ground to its competitors, has moved aggressively into the area of "green transportation" with its 2008 hay-powered Ranchero IV. The company admits that consumers used to traditional automotive transportation will have to make some adjustments in storage, upkeep, and convenience. And they also acknowledge that the time to get where you're going may be just a bit extended. Nevertheless, with the desperate need to reduce CO2 emissions before the polar ice caps melt and wash civilization away altogether, Ford is confident that the Ranchero IV will become a big-seller. Pic below:


Global warming debate 'irrational': scientists

The current debate about global warming is "completely irrational," and people need to start taking a different approach, say two Ottawa scientists.

Carleton University science professor Tim Patterson said global warming will not bring about the downfall of life on the planet. Patterson said much of the up-to-date research indicates that "changes in the brightness of the sun" are almost certainly the primary cause of the warming trend since the end of the "Little Ice Age" in the late 19th century.

Human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas of concern in most plans to curb climate change, appear to have little effect on global climate, he said. "I think the proof in the pudding, based on what (media and governments) are saying, (is) we're about three quarters of the way (to disaster) with the doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere," said Patterson. "The world should be heating up like crazy by now, and it's not. The temperatures match very closely with the solar cycles."

Patterson explained CO2 is not a pollutant, but an essential plant food. Billions of taxpayers' dollars are spent to control the emissions of this benign gas, in the mistaken belief that they can stop climate change, he said. "The only constant about climate is change," said Patterson.

Patterson said money could be better spent on places like Africa. "All the money wasted on Kyoto in a year could provide clean drinking water for Africa," said Patterson. "We're into a new era of science with the discussion of solar forces. Eventually, Kyoto is going to fall by the wayside. In the meantime, I'm worried we're going to spend millions that could have been spent on something better like air pollution."

Tom Harris, executive director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project - an organization that attempts to debunk some of the popular beliefs about climate change - supported Patterson's findings. Global warming assertions are based on inconclusive evidence put forth in science reports that had not been published yet, he said. "The media takes (inconclusive) information that only suggests there could be a climate problem and turns it into an environmental catastrophe," said Harris. "They continually say we only have 10 years left, and they've been saying it for 20 years, and it's ridiculous," he said. "The only reason I got involved in talking to media is that I think our resources are being mismanaged. "Go after something real and tangible like air pollution."

After hearing a second scientist say climate change is part of a natural cycle, Elaine Kennedy - a local environmental activist - is interested in investigating the issue further. She looks forward to examining scientific reports that will be published in a couple of months by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "The problem may not be climate change, but the problem is still pollution," said Kennedy.

She's not alone in her assertion global warming is a pollution problem. David Phillips, a senior government environment expert, believes there is more than one contributing factor to global warming. There's a human element, as well as natural cycles. "I'm a man that's difficult to convince," he said. "What convinces me is the large body of evidence, and highly reputable people promoting global warming, who are not lobbyists, but only seeking truth in science. They say the the earth is warming up faster and greater now than in the past."

People who are contradicting the global warming reality, Phillip thinks, have their own motives for doing so. "These skeptics are keeping the debate alive (for their own interests). They try to confuse people into inaction," said Phillips. Phillips believes global warming is solvable. "We solved the ozone and acid rain problem. With effort, and a new way of doing things we could solve this one too," said Phillips.


British police protect Green saboteurs

What a sick country!

The operation to sabotage the government's GM potato trial was planned with care and under conditions of great secrecy. Two hundred and fifty protesters swooped on the 16-hectare site outside Hull, armed with shovels and filled with indignation. In less than an hour they had moved to invalidate the trial, planting thousands of organic potatoes. Mission accomplished. If only they had got the right field. Activists from yesterday apologised to farmer David Buckton after it emerged that they wrongly identified his land as the site of the GM trial. The field they planted was sown with beans.

By the time Mr Buckton was alerted to the protesters on his land, it was too late to stop the direct action. The protesters were determined to move quickly on the basis that the land would be rendered unsuitable for the GM trials once other root crops were in the ground.

In a statement said: "With the information that we had and the short timescale available to us ... we sincerely believed this to be the correct field. The public were not given sufficient information by the government, who supplied only a four-figure grid reference for the location of the trial." The group said they conducted extensive investigations within the area specified by the environment department and outside. "While it is regrettable that the wrong site and farmer were targeted, we would also like to make it clear ... that people will continue to disrupt the planting of GM crops despite the difficulties faced by this lack of full disclosure," the group added.

Yesterday Mr Buckton, 54, said the mix-up was the strangest event to have befallen his family in four generations of farming. He said the protesters were accompanied by two police officers on horseback. "I told the police officers that it was a bean field but they said the protest seemed peaceful so we'd better let them get on with it. The beans are just about peeping through. The protesters should have been able to see that," he said.

Mr Buckton said he had no great enthusiasm for GM crops. "I certainly wouldn't have been giving up my land to test them, he said." The company BASF plans trials of GM potatoes at two sites: Cambridge, which already has government approval, and in the East Riding of Yorkshire.


More on the lightbulb lunacy

Greenies ignore themselves!

How much money does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent lightbulb? About $4.28 for the bulb and labor - unless you break the bulb. Then you, like Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine, could be looking at a cost of about $2,004.28, which doesn't include the costs of frayed nerves and risks to health. Sound crazy? Perhaps no more than the stampede to ban the incandescent light bulb in favor of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) - a move already either adopted or being considered in California, Canada, the European Union and Australia.

According to an April 12 article in The Ellsworth American, Bridges had the misfortune of breaking a CFL during installation in her daughter's bedroom: It dropped and shattered on the carpeted floor. Aware that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her that the CFL contained mercury and that she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges' house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter.

The DEP specialist recommended that Bridges call an environmental cleanup firm, which reportedly gave her a "low-ball" estimate of $2,000 to clean up the room. The room then was sealed off with plastic and Bridges began "gathering finances" to pay for the $2,000 cleaning. Reportedly, her insurance company wouldn't cover the cleanup costs because mercury is a pollutant.

Given that the replacement of incandescent bulbs with CFLs in the average U.S. household is touted as saving as much as $180 annually in energy costs - and assuming that Bridges doesn't break any more CFLs - it will take her more than 11 years to recoup the cleanup costs in the form of energy savings.

Even if you don't go for the full-scale panic of the $2,000 cleanup, the do-it-yourself approach is still somewhat intense, if not downright alarming. Consider the procedure offered by the Maine DEP's Web page entitled, "What if I accidentally break a fluorescent bulb in my home?" Don't vacuum bulb debris because a standard vacuum will spread mercury-containing dust throughout the area and contaminate the vacuum. Ventilate the area and reduce the temperature. Wear protective equipment like goggles, coveralls and a dust mask. Collect the waste material into an airtight container. Pat the area with the sticky side of tape. Wipe with a damp cloth. Finally, check with local authorities to see where hazardous waste may be properly disposed. The only step the Maine DEP left off was the final one: Hope that you did a good enough cleanup so that you, your family and pets aren't poisoned by any mercury inadvertently dispersed or missed.

This, of course, assumes that people are even aware that breaking CFLs entails special cleanup procedures. The potentially hazardous CFL is being pushed by companies such as Wal-Mart, which wants to sell 100 million CFLs at five times the cost of incandescent bulbs during 2007, and, surprisingly, environmentalists. It's quite odd that environmentalists have embraced the CFL, which cannot now and will not in the foreseeable future be made without mercury. Given that there are about 4 billion lightbulb sockets in American households, we're looking at the possibility of creating billions of hazardous waste sites such as the Bridges' bedroom.

Usually, environmentalists want hazardous materials out of, not in, our homes. These are the same people who go berserk at the thought of mercury being emitted from power plants and the presence of mercury in seafood. Environmentalists have whipped up so much fear of mercury among the public that many local governments have even launched mercury thermometer exchange programs. As the activist group Environmental Defense urges us to buy CFLs, it defines mercury on a separate part of its Web site as a "highly toxic heavy metal that can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in fetuses and children" and as "one of the most poisonous forms of pollution."

Greenpeace also recommends CFLs while simultaneously bemoaning contamination caused by a mercury thermometer factory in India. But where are mercury-containing CFLs made? Not in the U.S., under strict environmental regulation. CFLs are made in India and China, where environmental standards are virtually non-existent.

And let's not forget about the regulatory nightmare known as the Superfund law, the EPA regulatory program best known for requiring expensive but often needless cleanup of toxic waste sites, along with endless litigation over such cleanups. We'll eventually be disposing billions and billions of CFL mercury bombs. Much of the mercury from discarded and/or broken CFLs is bound to make its way into the environment and give rise to Superfund liability, which in the past has needlessly disrupted many lives, cost tens of billions of dollars and sent many businesses into bankruptcy.

As each CFL contains 5 milligrams of mercury, at the Maine "safety" standard of 300 nanograms per cubic meter, it would take 16,667 cubic meters of soil to "safely" contain all the mercury in a single CFL. While CFL vendors and environmentalists tout the energy cost savings of CFLs, they conveniently omit the personal and societal costs of CFL disposal.

Not only are CFLs much more expensive than incandescent bulbs and emit light that many regard as inferior to incandescent bulbs, they pose a nightmare if they break and require special disposal procedures. Should government (egged on by environmentalists and the Wal-Marts of the world) impose on us such higher costs, denial of lighting choice, disposal hassles and breakage risks in the name of saving a few dollars every year on the electric bill?



By veteran Australian columnist Errol Simper -- "The Scribe"

One of the unfortunate things about the climate change debate is that to be a climate change sceptic is to become a dirty word. To be a climate change sceptic has become about the most unfashionable thing you could possibly become. Kevin Rudd all but sneers at John Howard for being a sceptic about the long-term weather forecasts. Howard, of course, vehemently rejects that he's a sceptic. Well, he would.

The word, as it relates to global warming and all the rest, has become code for fool, ignoramus, moron. This phenomenon is more than unfortunate. Many an ancient media practitioner may also find it a bit odd. You don't have to go back too many years to discover a time when scepticism was regarded as an admirable quality. For a journalist, for example, to be described as sceptical was - when the scribe started out in this caper many years ago - a compliment. To be sceptical was good. It meant you thought about things, delved below the surface, didn't rule out other possibilities. It certainly didn't mean you were uninformed, gormless or weak in the head.

Whether the media has been sceptical enough to date about climate change and concomitant alarmism is something the scribe has ruminated about since The Sydney Morning Herald appeared on green paper on Friday, March 30. The humble scribe isn't here trying to be droll at the expense of a rival journal. There's no obvious harm in a public-spirited newspaper sponsoring an "earth hour" and urging Sydneysiders to turn off their lights for 60 minutes the following day. Lots of us will have seen plenty of wanton waste and too conspicuous, greed-driven consumption. And there's nothing inherently wrong with green paper, perhaps excepting the fact you very probably have to expend extra energy to render it so.

It's fair to suggest that page 17, the opinion page, carried a particularly scintillating piece of journalism from Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Moore began her missive with the jolly announcement: "Climate change is with us." Her article warned a few paragraphs later: "Climate change will spell the end of many familiar ways of doing things." She somehow contrived to make it sound like a wish fulfilment. What may have been missing from The Green Issue was, with respect, a dose of old-fashioned, agonising, doubt.

Maybe Moore's space should have gone to a hard-bitten sceptic. Such individuals do exist. One of the US's most experienced weather forecasters, William Gray - an emeritus professor of atmospheric science at the University of Colorado - said recently global warming during the past 30 years was due simply to fluctuations in key ocean currents. Gray, 77, believes the currents will alter course in the next decade or so and the planet will cool accordingly. Those scientists linking human activity to every bout of inclement weather are, Gray says, simply fishing for climate change study grants. He says doom-laden pronouncements are mere foolishness. And he says an inconvenient truth about Al Gore is that he's "an alarmist who doesn't know what he's talking about". For those of a sceptical nature the scribe should hasten to say he read all about Gray in a recent edition of Perth's The Sunday Times. So it must be true.

It is, of course, a debate that throws onerous responsibility on to the media. Science and environment specialists find themselves with the task of dissembling and editing copious information that may help decide the result of the forthcoming federal election and, at least according to some, the fate of our grandchildren.

The scribe might venture that few environment writers would be better credentialled for the job than this journal's Matthew Warren. Warren did a 1985 journalism cadetship at Adelaide's The News (no longer published), then switched to The Australian. He left in 1991 to study environmental economies at the University of Adelaide before undergoing a traineeship in Brussels with the European Union's environmental directorate. He became an environmental consultant, and worked for the Australian Food and Grocery Council and the mining industry before returning to journalism about six months ago. Warren, 42, is happy to be labelled a climate change sceptic. He doesn't mean he has no time for those who worry about global warming. He means it's his job "to challenge both sets of theories".

"Look, the science of this is complex, far more complex than many people seem to realise," Warren says. "There are those who'll tell you: 'The science is over and pointing unequivocally to human-induced global warming.' That's just uninformed. Science is a journey; it's always been a journey. I'm not sold on any one body of science. But I am respectful that a majority of responsible scientists is genuinely concerned. So, I suppose I'm sold on the risk. I believe when we look back on this debate in - say - 30 years' time, we'll either be incredibly grateful we had it or else we'll have to concede: 'We conned ourselves senseless."'

Another science writer with strong credentials is Peter Pockley. The founding director of the ABC's science unit, now a writer for Australasian Science magazine, Pockley finds himself sympathetic to those who are certain climate change is a reality but concedes the debate has become "polarised in a political way". He says: "Perhaps the most important thing we science journalists can do is to carefully assess the credibility and track record of those who speak out prominently on this matter. And it's not always an easy thing for us to do simply because we're not in that academic or professional swim."

The scribe? Well, the wisest among us usually keep an open mind about most things. On the other hand, the ancient scribe has seen lots of weather in his time. So he leans, just for the moment, towards the second of Warren's outcomes. We conned ourselves senseless.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


28 April, 2007

This is definitely a Green religion

Environmentalism may not be saving the planet, but to judge by the news it seems to be conquering the world. Some of us have long thought that it is assuming pseudo-religious status, with its self-righteous claims to absolute truth and demands for sinners to repent. Now comes confirmation that, just as old Labour genuflected to new Labour, so our old state religion has converted to the new one.

The Church of England this week launched a booklet of "green tips" for the faithful entitled How Many Christians Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? (only 4.99, if you still have that fiver). Its eco-commandments include: thou shalt share cars on the road to church, use virtuous green lightbulbs but cast off the Devil's junk mail, and not flush the loo three times before the cock crows.

This is more than a stunt. The C of E is serious about embracing the new orthodoxy. When it launched its Shrinking the Footprint crusade last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury complained that "early modern religion contributed to the idea that the fate of nature is for it to be bossed around by a detached sovereign will, whether divine or human". Possibly those misguided early modern religionists got that idea from the bit in the Book of Genesis about God giving Man dominion "over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth". Yet now the Archbishop condemns notions of nature being "bossed around" not only by Man, but even by God. Creepy.

As with Labour, it is not the power of the new religion that explains this craven conversion but the feebleness of the old. Such is the lack of confidence within the traditional Establishment today, everybody from politicians to church leaders wants to hug environmentalism as a new form of unquestioned authority. Scientists have become the equivalent of high priests in white coats, summoned to condemn heretics; a group of them now demand that the Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle be amended to reflect the one true faith before the DVD goes on sale. Perhaps they would like to burn it, if not for the CO2.

When there is only one recycled hymn sheet in town and you can believe in any shade of politics or religion just as long as it's green, those of us who put our faith in humanity should surely worry more about the new dogma than the old. They all now buy into the same non-plastic bag of fashionable prejudices: that people are the problem rather than the solution, and we must be saved from ourselves. Sackcloth and ashes is the new black. As a wise man once said, kick against the pricks. Or as we might say today, give them a human footprint up the carbon emissions.



In the past year, concern for the environment has risen to the top of the public's agenda. Now the environmental movement must face a monster of its own making. The very success of environmentalism threatens to undo two of mankind's most significant environmental victories. The first is the near stabilization of humanity's agricultural footprint, expansion of which is the single largest threat to biodiversity worldwide. The second is the spectacular reduction in chronic hunger and malnutrition without which the pressure to convert land for agricultural use would have been stronger.

Around the globe between 1990 and 2003, the amount of land given over to agricultural uses increased less than 2 percent, even though population growth increased 20 percent. Chronic hunger in developing countries declined to 17 percent from 37 percent between 1970 and 2001, despite an 83 percent increase in population. These improvements, largely due to greater agricultural productivity, increased food production per capita, helping to drive down global food prices by about 75 percent since 1950. As a result, access to food increased worldwide, despite increasing demand from a wealthier and more populated world.

The resulting reductions in hunger further reduced pressures for converting more land for agricultural uses. Global warming hysteria - a boon for the ethanol and other biofuel enterprises - has boosted demand for crop-based fuels worldwide. This now threatens to reverse a half century of gains not only against world hunger, but also in holding the line against conversion of undeveloped land. The cost of food has jumped over 10 percent in India over the past year, and 6 percent in China, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This is partly due to the diversion of corn to biofuels. In the United States, driven by subsidized ethanol, farmers were planning to plant a record 90.5 million acres in corn in 2007, the highest since 1944, while at the same time reducing acreage in soybeans, rice and cotton. Meanwhile, European demand for biofuels to replace gasoline is fueling plans for massive clearing of rainforests for palm-oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia. These rainforests, among other things, provide refuge for the Sumatran tiger, Borneo's orangutan and the Malaysian elephant.

Ironically, much of the hysteria over global warming is itself fueled by concerns that it may drive numerous species to extinction and increase hunger worldwide, especially in developing countries. Yet the biofuel solution would only make bad matters worse on both counts. As long as global warming is hyped as the world's most important environmental problem - as many politicians and environmental pressure groups claim - it will be virtually impossible to rationally evaluate other options in dealing with climate change, or confront the unintended consequences unleashed by global warming hysteria.



A group of British climate scientists is demanding changes to a skeptical documentary about global warming, saying there are grave errors in the program billed as a response to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." "The Great Global Warming Swindle" aired on British television in March and is coming out soon on DVD. It argues that man-made emissions have a marginal impact on the world's climate and warming can better be explained by changing patterns of solar activity.

An open letter sent Tuesday by 38 scientists, including the former heads of Britain's academy of sciences and Britain's weather office, called on producer Wag TV to remove what it called "major misrepresentations" from the film before the DVD release -- a demand its director said was tantamount to censorship.

Bob Ward, the former spokesman for the Royal Society, Britain's academy of science, and one of the letter's signatories, said director Mark Durkin made a "long catalogue of fundamental and profound mistakes" -- including the claim that volcanoes produce more carbon dioxide than humans, and that the Earth's atmosphere was warmer during the Middle Ages than it is today. "Free speech does not extend to misleading the public by making factually inaccurate statements,'' he said. "Somebody has to stand up for the public interest here."

Durkin called the letter "loathsome." "This is a contemptible, weasel-worded attempt to gag scientific criticism, and it won't work," he said. "I don't believe they're interested in quality control when it comes to the reporting of science -- so long as it's on their side." Durkin acknowledged two of the errors highlighted by the scientists -- including the claim about volcanic emissions -- but he described those changes as minor and said they would be corrected in the expanded DVD release.

But the scientists do not want the DVD released without edits to completely remove the material they object to -- something Ward said would fatally weaken the film's argument. "The fact is that it's a very convincing program, and if you're not very aware of the science you wouldn't necessarily see what the errors are," Ward said. "But the errors are huge. ... Without those errors in, he doesn't have a story."

Ward has also complained to Britain's media regulator, which said it was investigating the matter. British broadcast law demands impartiality on matters of major political and industrial controversy -- and penalties can be imposed for misrepresentations of fact.

The decision to broadcast Durkin's documentary on Channel 4 was an unusual move in a country where the role of man-made carbon emissions in heating the globe is largely taken for granted and politicians regularly spar over which party has the greenest environmental policy. As for the former vice president, Gore has been hired as an adviser to the British government, which plans to send copies of his film to schools around England.



A FLAGSHIP EU scheme to cut pollution is "counter-productive" and could damage the Welsh steel industry, the chief executive of Corus warned yesterday. Philippe Varin, pictured right, said the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, first introduced in 2005, was a major contributor to rising electricity prices, one of the firm's big headaches. A 6.2bn pound takeover of Corus by Indian firm Tata steel was finalised earlier this month, and some fear the move will have serious implications for its Port Talbot plant, which employs more than 3,000.

Around 90% of new capacity in the steel industry is being developed in the 70% of the world not covered by the Kyoto agreement on cutting greenhouse gases. The current system involves EU Governments setting an emission cap for all manufacturing plants covered by the scheme. Each firm is then given an allowance, and can sell on any surplus if it cuts its pollution.

But there are many anomalies, including the inclusion of steel but not aluminium, and the lack of a similar scheme outside the EU. Asked by MPs about the impact on the firm if the scheme were not changed, Mr Varin said, "The consequence would be we wouldn't expand at all, then shrink production. We would import steel, we would continue to produce as much CO2 and it would be worse. "Production would be relocated to other countries."


Better fish dinners coming?

Fish are said to be growing bigger and faster as oceans warm but somehow that is a disaster! The global warming religion requires that there be a dark lining in every silver cloud

Researchers believe that some species of Australian fish are growing bigger, much faster, because ocean temperatures are warming up. A CSIRO study has found that increasing ocean temperatures are speeding up the growth rate of wild fish stocks by up to 30 per cent. But while fish in shallow waters are growing rapidly, species in the cooler deeper ocean are growing at a much slower rate.

Lead author Dr Ron Thresher says this will have huge implications for the long-term sustainability of the marine ecosystem. "Some species are probably going to be able to track an environmental temperature by moving up and down the coast or moving up and down in the water column so they stay in their optimal temperature range," he said. "But the fish we looked at, it doesn't look they're doing that and they're just trying to cope with the temperatures as they're changing," he said. "Sooner or later eventually they'll reach a point where they can't cope and at that stage they're going to be in real trouble."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


27 April, 2007

Britain: "Green" garbage collection bad for your health

At the behest of the EU, most of Britain has reduced garbage collection from weekly to fortnightly -- to "encourage" people to recycle!

HANDLING rubbish that has been left out for a fortnight before being collected can increase the risk of health problems including asthma and nausea, a study has found. Researchers found that the level of bacteria and fungal spores in the air above bins that had not been emptied for two weeks was more than 10 times that in locations where there was a weekly collection.

The findings come amid concerns about the public health risks of cutting collections. More than 140 councils in England have moved to fortnightly emptying to encourage recycling and cut costs, despite warnings of an increase in rat and insect infestation.

The spread of fortnightly collections has also raised fears about fly-tipping [illegal dumping]. Government figures show incidents rose by over 10% last year. In 2005/6 there were 1,034,518 cases, up from 926,534 in 2004/5. Caroline Spelman, the shadow local government secretary, said: "Fortnightly collections, designed to be a green initiative, could result in more people driving to the countryside to dump waste." But Ben Bradshaw, the environment minister, said: "There is absolutely no evidence of any connection between alternate weekly collections and fly-tipping."

The new report, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found rubbish left out for longer periods produced tens of thousands more spores. Dr Tom Kosatsky, a medical epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal, said: "If rubbish is decaying for two weeks and is heated by warm weather, it provides a fertile breeding ground for spores. "Exposure to fungi on this level can trigger sore throats, respiratory symptoms, faintness, weakness and depression, asthma and other allergic reactions."

Dr Toni Gladding, a lecturer in environmental engineering at the Open University, said: "Councils introduced the change without recognising there may be a risk to occupational health."



Prof. Brignell comments on the British garbage nonsense -- nonsense that is as destructive as almost all current Greenie ideas are. See the original post for links

For the first time since the Great Stench of London in 1858, the steady improvement in Britain 's hygiene has gone into reverse. There are so many reasons why this further disaster is a typical product of modern British politics:

1. It was dreamt up by unelected Brussels bureaucrats

2. The British Government is desperately trying to cover up its lack of authority by pretending that it is defending its own policies, however dim-witted.

3. It is facilitated by the total lack of effective opposition in Parliament.

4. It is being done in obeisance to the new eco-religion.

5. It involves the diversion of control away from elected authorities to unmovable officials.

6. It is justified by the global warming myth (but an even more bizarre version based on methane).

7. It defies all the basic sciences of human hygiene, such as bacteriology and mycology.

8. It involves ordinary citizens in elaborate rituals, with draconian fines it they get them wrong.

9. It exposes ordinary people, but especially those occupationally involved, to greatly magnified risk of serious disease.

10. It is being done in total defiance of mounting anger among the victims.

11. It is being done against the advice of the Government's own expensive consultants.

12. It will lead to a substantial increase in illegal activity that is distressing and dangerous to the general populace.

It is the abandonment of weekly refuse collection, one of the staples of health protection law since the great Public Health Act of 1875. The enfeebled British Government is obliged to enact this gross and murderous folly or be fined by the EU Commissars for failing to reduce the burial of rubbish. It is self evident to anyone with a modicum of general scientific education that this is a route to human disaster, but if people must have "modern" research, see this in the Times.

The bacterial generation time can be as short as twenty minutes. You don't need a calculator to know that after a week one cell can turn into a figure with rather a large number of noughts behind it. After a fortnight the number of noughts is more than somewhat bigger. Then there are the rodents and insects. One common housefly, musca domestica, can convey millions of bacteria on its feet. Houseflies can transmit intestinal worms, or their eggs, and are potential vectors of many serious diseases such as dysentery, gastroenteritis, typhoid, cholera and tuberculosis. In the nutritive warmth of a putrid dustbin, the total reproductive cycle can be as short as a week. Dustbins now contain human excreta, particularly of babies, so houseflies complete the closed loop by settling on food. Rats spread several serious diseases. Overflowing dustbins are rodent heaven. The inevitable increase in illegal fly-tipping [illegal dumping in parks and by roadsides etc.] will distribute uncontrolled, festering sources of pestilence all over the country.

Can any sane person of moderate intelligence believe that this is anything but one of the most insane and dangerous policies ever devised by man?


This week's announcement by the Canadian government -- that it may join a U.S.-led coalition focused on voluntary emissions cuts -- could be part of a global shift away from Kyoto's binding targets. In a somewhat surprising development, Canada, a long-time supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, announced that it may want to join the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6), a six-nation coalition focusing on voluntary emission-reduction steps and technology transfers.

Many environmentalists oppose AP6 out of a fear that it may undermine political support for the legally binding Kyoto treaty. The partnership, launched in mid-2005, is an agreement among six countries -- Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States -- to develop and share greenhouse-gas reduction technology to combat climate change. According to the AP6 Web site, the six partner countries "represent about half of the world's economy, population and energy use, and they produce about 65% of the world's coal, 48% of the world's steel, 37% of world's aluminium, and 61% of the world's cement." The countries also account for half the world's greenhouse-gas emissions.

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Asia-Pacific Partnership is voluntary and technology-based, and lets each country set its own goals for greenhouse gas emission reductions, rather than legally binding them to a greenhouse gas reduction target. The group sees itself as "a voluntary, non-legally binding framework for international co-operation to facilitate the development, diffusion, deployment, and transfer of existing, emerging and longer term cost-effective, cleaner, more efficient technologies and practices." Green activists fear that AP6 -- officially a complementary approach to Kyoto -- could be converted into an opposing bloc.



This Earth Day, Professor Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric physicist and the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, wants you to calm down. The Earth, he says, is in good shape. "Forests are returning in Europe and the United States. Air quality has improved. Water quality has improved. We grow more food on less land. We've done a reasonably good job in much of the world in conquering hunger. And yet we're acting as though: "How can we stand any more of this?"

A leading critic on the theory of man-made global warming, Professor Lindzen has developed a reputation as America's anti-doom-and-gloom scientist. And he's not, he says, as lonely as you might think.

Q You don't dispute that the globe is warming?

A It has never been an issue of whether the Earth is warming -- because it's always warming or cooling. The issue is: What are the magnitudes involved? It's a big difference if it's warming a degree or two or 10, or if it's warming a few tenths of a degree.

Q And it's inconclusive how much it's warming?

A Sure it's inconclusive. It's a very hard thing to analyze because you have to average huge fluctuations over the whole Earth, and 70% of the Earth is oceans where you don't have weather stations. So you get different groups analyzing this. And they're pretty close. One group gets over the last century a warming of about .55 degrees centigrade. Another group says it's .75 degrees.

Q Is there any scenario in which global warming could be beneficial for the planet?

A Of course. Canada looks like it will benefit considerably if it were to happen. And it might very well happen -- but it won't be due to man.

Q You charge that the hysteria that's been created around global warming is an enormous financial scam. It's all about money? A Well, how shall I put it? It's not all about money, but boy, there's a lot of money floating in it. I mean, emissions trading is going to be a multi-trillion dollar market. Emissions alone would keep small countries in business.

Q Are you suggesting that scientists manipulate their findings to get in on the gravy train?

A You have to differentiate the interests of different groups. In the scientific community, your interest is for your field to be recognized so that it will have priority in government funding.

Q So you are not accusing your scientific colleagues of corruption?

A No, I'm accusing them of behaving the way scientists always behave. In other words, some years ago, when Richard Nixon declared war on cancer, almost all the biological sciences then became cancer research. I mean, I don't call that corruption, I'm saying you orient your research so that it has a better chance to get resources.

Q And it helps if your findings suggest something catastrophic is about to happen?

A In this case it certainly has helped. First of all, the funding increased so greatly that it exceeded the capacity of the existing field to absorb it. You'll notice that Working Group 2 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came up with lots of scary things, but everything was always preceded by could, might, may, all these qualifiers. And the reason it was is those studies start out assuming there's a lot of warming. They assume all the science is in, and then they say, 'Well, how will this impact my field of insect-borne diseases, or agriculture, or health?' So they are almost, by definition, going to generate catastrophic scenarios, but they will never be based on anything other than the hypothesis that this will already happen.

Q I read that you bet one of your colleagues that the Earth will actually be colder 20 years from now?

A I haven't bet on it, but I figure the odds are about 50-50. If you look at the temperature record for the globe over the last six years, it's gone no place. That's usually the way it behaves before it goes down. In fact, I suspect that's why you have this tsunami of exposure the last two years, with Gore's movie and so on. I think that this issue has been around long enough to generate a lot of agendas, and looking at the temperature records there must be a fear that if they don't get the agendas covered now, they may never get them.

Q Did you watch Al Gore ge this Academy Award?

A No! Bad enough I watched his movie.

Q He would appear to have the support of the majority of your scientific colleagues.

A Not really. This is an issue that has hundreds of aspects. The very thought that a large number of scientists all agree on everything is inconceivable. Among my colleagues, I would say, almost no one thinks that Gore's movie is reasonable. But there will be differences. Some believe it is possible that warming could be a serious problem. Others think it's very unlikely. People are all over the place.

Q Some suggest that Roger Revelle, Gore's scientific mentor, would not have agreed with the movie?

A Well, he's dead.

Q Yes. So that makes it harder for him to speak out.

A It's a horrible story. Before he died, Roger Revelle co-authored a popular paper saying, 'We know too little to take any action based on global warming. If we take any action it should be an action that we can justify completely without global warming.' And Gore's staffers tried to have his name posthumously removed from that paper claiming he had been senile. And one of the other authors took it to court and won. It's funny how little coverage that got.

Q How cynical do you think Gore is?

A It's hard for me to tell. I think he's either cynical or crazy. But he has certainly cashed in on something. And 'cash in' is the word. The movie has cleared $50-million. He charges $100,000-$150,000 a lecture. He's co-founder of Global Investment Management, which invests in solar and wind and so on. So he is literally shilling for his own companies. And he's on the on the board of Lehman Brothers who want to be the primary brokerage for emission permits.

Q That sounds more cynical, less crazy.

A I think his aim is not to be president. It's to be a billionaire.

Q What do you find to be the attitude among your MIT undergraduates on global warming?

A I find that they realize they don't know enough to reach judgments. They all realize that Gore's book was a sham. They appreciate that Michael Crichton at least included references.

Q That's encouraging. Because I find the indoctrination at schools to be pretty relentless. On a recent Grade 7 test my daughter was asked something to the effect of, "How are you going to educate your parents about global warming?"

A I know. It's straight out of Hitlerjugend.

Q Having said that, are there any behaviours we should be changing, as a society, in order to protect our planet?

A Yes. We should learn math and physics so we don't get fooled by this idiocy.


More Leftist projection

Post lifted from Blue Crab -- which see for links

Fascist America in 10 easy steps . That is the title of a breathless story (or fairy tale) in the Guardian written by Naomi Wolf. Oh, do take the time to read it, what follows will make much more sense if you wade about in the fever swamp for a moment. But Naomi did present a little blueprint that fits something else that is going on in the world. Therefore, we here in the Crabitat have decided to reinterpret the list Ms. Wolf so graciously projected:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

Global warming! Global warming! We're all going to die.

2. Create a gulag

Demand the ouster of people who do not accept the "consensus" about global warming from their jobs. (Prison to follow.)

3. Develop a thug caste

Send in the screeching hordes to shout down anyone who disagrees with global warming "consensus."

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

Set up "global warming deniers database ." (If we weren't before, we expect to be on it shortly).

5. Harass citizens' groups

See 3.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

So far, only refusing to allow publication of opinions that disagree with "consensus" in scientific journals and threatening letters from US Senators - give it time.

7. Target key individuals

Expect to be reviled and accused of being a tool of the oil companies if you dare to speak out against the "consensus."

8. Control the press

The New York Times. Case closed.

9. Dissent equals treason

See 4.

10. Suspend the rule of law

Give them a chance at power and the full set will be complete.

Amazing how that works, isn't it?


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


26 April, 2007


Applying the wisdom of the very offset Gore-meister

If anybody is not sure what the third cartoon above refers to, see my fourth post yesterday.

DDT Backlash Begins

The usual Greenie misrepresentations

Seven months after the World Health Organization reversed its deadly 30-year ban on the use of DDT to fight malaria, the anti-DDT movement is up to its old tricks. "South African medical researchers have reported alarming evidence of low sperm counts and other damage to the male reproductive system linked to the use of the pesticide DDT in anti-malaria spray campaigns," reported the Mercury/Independent Online (South Africa) on April 12. The lead researcher told Mercury that there is sufficient evidence to be concerned about the health impacts of DDT and to consider moving toward safer alternative methods for malaria control.

To be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Andrology, the study compared levels of DDT and its metabolites in the blood of 311 South African men aged 18 to 40 with the quantity and quality of their semen. The men were selected from three communities where malaria is endemic and DDT is sprayed to control mosquitoes. "Laboratory analysis showed abnormally low sperm counts, lower semen volumes, slower-moving sperm and fewer viable sperm," reported the Mercury. "The results imply that non-occupational exposure to DDT is associated with impaired seminal parameters in men."

The only thing that actually appears "impaired," as far as I can tell, is the researchers' willingness to communicate what they actually found - precisely nothing. Before going into their specific results, it's necessary to have a basic understanding of the sort of statistical analysis they undertook.

The researchers conducted a so-called "regression analysis" to evaluate the nature of any statistical relationships between blood levels of DDT and various characteristics of the men's semen/sperm. The key result in this type of analysis is called the "beta." In the context of these analyses, a non-zero beta (either positive or negative) means that a statistical relationship between DDT levels and sperm characteristics was observed, while a beta of zero means no relationship was observed. The greater the beta is (either positive or negative), the stronger the statistical association; the closer to zero, the weaker the statistical relationship.

The sign (positive or negative) of the beta indicates the direction of the relationship: A negative beta indicates decreasing semen/sperm quality with increasing blood DDT while a positive sign indicates the opposite. Keep in mind that statistical relationships do not necessarily represent actual biological or cause-and-effect relationships.

For semen volume and blood DDT, the researchers reported a beta of -0.0005, meaning that they measured a very slight decline in semen volume with increasing blood DDT levels. But this beta result is so close to zero - and statistically insignificant, to boot - that it cannot constitute evidence of a relationship between semen volume and DDT exposure.

Though the researchers reported a beta of -27.63 for DDT and sperm motility, this result was also not statistically significant, meaning it could have occurred simply by chance. The likelihood that this beta is a spurious result is strengthened by the fact that the average sperm motility of the study subjects was within the standards of normalcy as determined by the World Health Organization.

In terms of sperm count, the results were, if anything, self-contradictory. While the beta for the DDT metabolite known as DDE was a statistically insignificant -0.0003, the beta for DDT was 0.0022 - meaning that sperm counts slightly increased with greater levels of blood DDT. Both betas, however, are so close to zero that, once again, they are probably meaningless. For the final sperm endpoint mentioned in The Mercury article, sperm viability, the researchers reported betas of -0.6571 and -1.7258 for DDE and DDT, respectively. But neither result was statistically significant.

Not only have these researchers failed to statistically link DDT with harm to semen/sperm - let alone have they linked the two biologically - their study flies in the face of a couple of key touch points with reality.

First, there weren't any reproductive health issues among the men studied, with the researchers acknowledging that the semen/sperm characteristics were either within or close to World Health Organization standards.

Next, despite the past widespread use of DDT, no prior studies credibly link DDT with semen/sperm problems. Keep in mind that the period of heaviest use of DDT in the U.S. and other Western countries - the years 1946 to 1960, when DDT was indiscriminately applied all over the place - coincides precisely with the "baby boom" generation. If DDT use harms sperm, one can hardly prove it by the worldwide proliferation of boomers.

This study represents the vanguard of the coming backlash against the WHO's lifting of the DDT ban by anti-DDT environmental activists who are advocating an international treaty that would essentially ban DDT once and for all.

The study authors, in fact, give away their anti-DDT bias by their favorable reference to the dubious works of well-known anti-chemical, eco-activist researchers including "Our Stolen Future" author Theo Colburn; the University of Missouri's Frederick vom Saal; the University of Florida's Louis Guillette; and the University of Copenhagen's Neils Skakkebaek.

Last year, the WHO bravely moved to rectify one of the greatest tragedies in public health by lifting its DDT ban. The mosquito-killer has proven to be the most effective tool against malaria, a disease that annually kills 1 million children, sickens hundreds of millions and reduces economic development in poverty-stricken regions of the world. It would be a shame if junk science is once against used to thwart the desperately needed use of DDT.


British eco-imperialism

The UN Security Council this week held its first ever debate on climate change and the potential threat that global warming poses to international security. British foreign secretary Margaret Beckett, who chaired the meeting, organised the open session to highlight what she called the `security imperative' to tackle climate change. According to Beckett, climate change can exacerbate problems that cause conflicts and threaten the entire planet. She was clearly very pleased with the UK-led initiative, stating that: `This is a groundbreaking day in the history of the Security Council, the first time ever that we will debate climate change as a matter of international peace and security.' (1)

Not all the Council members agreed with her. The UK, currently holding the rotating council presidency, had to undertake a lot of `behind closed doors' lobbying to even get the Council to agree to hold the open session (2). Even so, the discussion was marked by strong disagreements over whether the Security Council had the authority to deal with the issue of global warming and, as expected beforehand, no resolution was reached.

China's deputy ambassador, Liu Zhenmin, was blunt in rejecting the session: `The developing countries believe the Security Council has neither the professional competence in handling climate change - nor is it the right decision-making place for extensive participation leading up to widely acceptable proposals.' Russia also warned that the Council, whose mandate is only peace and security, was not the place to take concrete action on climate change (3).

The main argument raised against Beckett's proposal was that the Security Council was stepping on to the territory of more democratic bodies, such as the UN General Assembly. The two major groups representing developing countries - the Nonaligned Movement and the Group of 77 - wrote separate letters accusing the Security Council of `ever-increasing encroachment' on the role and responsibility of other UN bodies such as the 192-member General Assembly (4).

However, none of the participants in the debate challenged the substance of Beckett's argument that climate change posed a major risk to international peace and security. The opposition from some of the Security Council's permanent members and from many other states was posed in terms of the Security Council's authority and mandate to deal with such an extensive issue. It would seem that even those states which spoke in favour of Beckett's position, including the EU members and Japan, were less concerned with the substance of the argument than the desire to prioritise the issue of climate change itself. This was also clearly the case for UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who hopes that the higher profile given to the relationship between climate change and global conflict will lead the member states to support his initiative to create a new UN Environmental Organisation, in an effort to coordinate action on climate change (5).

Even in the case of the UK, which has been so keen to push the link between climate change and global security, the substance of the argument appears to be of little importance. It is as if any important issue must be, of its very nature, a security risk in our globalised and interconnected world; it seems that every threat is so great that only the concerted action of the world's governments can deal with it. The UK has been keen to situate itself in the forefront of campaigning on climate change and Margaret Beckett argued some weeks ago that she hoped that the UN Security Council discussion would `foster a shared understanding of the way in which climate stress is likely to amplify other drivers of conflict and tension. This can only strengthen the commitment of the international community to the collective action that we urgently need.' (6)

It would appear that the substantive evidence for linking climate change with conflict is secondary to the concern that urgent collective action is taken. Beckett hinted as much in her speech to business organisations in New York the day before the UN Security Council debate: `[T]he, perhaps rather sad, truth is that the international community will not move with the necessary urgency or the necessary resolve if climate change is seen as primarily something that affects insects, animals and plants. To steal a slogan from Amnesty International, we need to show that tackling climate change is about saving the human.' (7)

For Beckett, the key issue is not so much the link between climate change and global conflict but the government's desire to take the international moral high ground in stressing the urgency of action in relation to climate change. It is this that has driven Beckett to engage in presenting climate change as a global security threat. She says: `Particularly over the past year, I have discussed the link between climate and security with many people. Some of them are sceptical. They respond that we can't prove that climate change will lead to this or that particular event - still less that it will cause any one outbreak of violence or hostilities. But that is to misunderstand the issue and the argument. If you are looking for a simple, linear connection between climate change and a particular flashpoint, you are only picking up a glimpse of a much wider picture. The implications of climate change for our security are more fundamental and comprehensive than any single conflict.' (8)

Beckett is clearly not, in fact, arguing that climate change causes conflict in any direct or straightforward way open to evidence-based debate. As the Guardian notes, `Britain refuses to site [sic] examples of global warming-related conflicts' (9). The reason for this obvious: it is not possible to substantiate a linkage between global warming and conflict. Even the alarmist CNA Corporation report, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change - released the day before the UN Security Council meeting, in which 11 former senior US generals, including Anthony Zinni, retired chief of Central Command, and Gordon Sullivan, formerly the US army's most senior general, called on the Bush administration to do more to tackle climate change - does not make any clear or direct links, despite arguing that `climate change is a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world' (10).

The generals' report links climate change to conflict only in the most non-specific and indirect terms: `Projected climate change will seriously exacerbate already marginal living standards in many Asian, African and Middle Eastern nations, causing widespread political instability and the likelihood of failed states.' (11) From the generalised nature of the report and its focus on poor and marginal societies, it is clear that the problem it highlights is not climate change as such, but rather the political, economic and social context upon which climate change may have an impact. To see climate change or resource shortages as a cause of conflict would involve depoliticising conflict and naturalising social and economic conditions in the countries under analysis (12).

Even given that there can be no direct link between climate change and conflict, the report gives very little concrete evidence of conflicts in which climate change can be held to have played a major role. It admits that, despite its importance, `no recent wars have been waged solely over water resources' and that `even tense disputes and resource crises can be peacefully overcome' (13). When the report does venture a few cursory attempts to claim examples where resource scarcity is held to be a contributing factor - Rwanda, `furthered by violence over agricultural resources', `the situation in Darfur, which has land resources at its root', the 1970s overthrow of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie `through his government's inability to deal with food shortages', and the 1974 Nigerian coup `that resulted largely from an insufficient response to famine' (14) - it is clear that the meaning and consequences of resource scarcity are social and political questions, not ones of environmental science, and certainly not ones liable to be ameliorated by any reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

Beckett follows a similar approach to that of the CNA report in grouping a wide-range of problems together, including those of resource scarcity, land erosion, energy supplies and food production and distribution. Once these social, economic and political problems are reframed in terms of natural resources then she is able to proclaim that we should: `Think of the world today, then, as a dangerously simmering pot. An unstable climate risks that pot boiling over. And we ignore that risk - literally - at our peril.' (15) Of course, if the risks are so great, the cause is ever more vital and heroic: `Now it is time for us to rise to our newest and biggest challenge: to fight the first great war of interdependence, the struggle for climate security.' (16)

Underneath the Churchillian rhetoric that Beckett uses to declare that climate change is a `gathering storm', comparable to the threat posed by Nazi Germany in an earlier era, lies an attempt to re-establish the UK's moral and political standing in the world - not through old-fashioned militarism but through what the government clearly believes to be the UK's strongest card: the power of rhetoric.


Britain's trains -- what the Greenies are wishing on us all

And you thought wobbly old Amtrak was bad!

A week ago a return Virgin Train ticket for the 85 minute journey from Euston station, London, to Birmingham New Street cost me more than œ70 ($168). For the outward journey that bought a seat on a window side of the carriage; but rather than a window, the seat was up close and personal with a beige plastic wall. A pale yellow light allowed me to read, just. The seat-back table was stickier than a poodle dipped in custard. Across the PA came an announcement that at any time we "customers" could move into a first-class carriage, where we could pay an extra œ10 for the upgrade. Halfway through the journey a Virgin employee scuttled through the carriages with a plastic bag the size of a small piggery, into which we could chuck the remains of our snacks.

But Virgin is luxury compared with First Great Western. One journey from Oxford to London Waterloo was plastic-rubbish-bag-free. Customers stepped carefully over floor puddles of food and drink remains, or kicked them aside.

Now for the stations. London Euston, a destination for 55 million passengers a year, is to be demolished and redeveloped at a cost of œ250 million. Early publicity promises a "light and airy thoroughfare" to replace the grey floors and grey-block ceilings that match the grey, dive-bombing pigeons. A tribute to the Brutalist architectural philosophy of the 1960s when it was built, Euston was demolished this month in print by the columnist Richard Morrison, who wrote: "The design should never have left the drawing board - if, indeed, it was ever on a drawing board. It gives the impression of having been scribbled on the back of a soiled paper bag by a thuggish android with a grudge against humanity and a vampiric loathing of sunlight."

Euston is so depressed that even its lavatories have gone on strike. After my trip from Birmingham New Street - a grotesquely ugly station itself - customers were forced to hop and shuffle in line to enter the Euston ladies and gents. Two of the three gates, demanding 20 pence each, were out of order.

Ealing Broadway, west London - there's another wrist slasher of a station. Late last month I booked online for a journey to Oxford, with plans to pick up the ticket at a Fast Ticket machine at the station. With 15 minutes to spare, I discovered every Fast Ticket machine at Ealing Broadway carried an "out of order" sign, strangely reminiscent of those black felt-tip pens on brown cardboard pleas: "Help, down on my luck." The queue to buy tickets was 30 people long. With my train due in less than five minutes, one extra ticket counter was s-l-o-w-l-y opened and my ticket handed over.

Finally, the entirely lift-free Stratford-on-Avon. To board a train to London, customers must carry their bags from one platform up a flight of steps, across a bridge, and down another flight to reach the right platform.

More here

Australia: Melbourne's trains -- what the Greenies are wishing on us all

The frequent complaints about woeful service from Sydney and Brisbane trains are similar. The Melbourne service is provided by a private contractor. The Brisbane and Sydney services are directly run by their State governments

COMMUTERS using some of Melbourne's busiest inner and middle-suburban stations are being left behind on platforms because of overcrowding on the rail system. Hot spots across the network include West Footscray, Yarraville, Kensington, Prahran, Glenhuntly, Armadale and Hawksburn stations. A Connex spokeswoman said it received complaints from squashed and stranded passengers and said most of the problems were caused by late or cancelled services. But the Public Transport Users Association and Connex drivers told The Age that increasing numbers of passengers were being left at busy inner-suburban stations. The State Government's decision to scrap Zone 3 has also increased passengers travelling from outer-suburban stations.

Metlink chief executive Bernie Carolan said anecdotal evidence showed car parks at former Zone 3 stations were almost full. "Those car parks are more popular than ever," Mr Carolan said. Metlink has also seen a rise in tickets being sold at former Zone 3 stations. Almost 170 million trips were made on the suburban network last year - an increase of 13 per cent.

While more passengers from Melbourne's outer suburbs use public transport, commuters in the middle and inner suburbs are feeling the squeeze. Department of Infrastructure figures show the Cranbourne, Pakenham, Sydenham and Broadmeadows lines suffer the worst levels of overcrowding. Pressure on inner-city stations such as Kensington on the Broadmeadows services will increase after the opening of the electrification extension to Craigieburn later this year.

A Connex driver said it was common for trains during the evening peak to wait up to four minutes for passengers to squeeze on at City Loop stations such as Melbourne Central and Parliament. "It's great to see all these people using trains but the services are just inadequate," he said. "It's just getting ridiculous. There are some trains that they could virtually cancel and put them elsewhere. They've still got the same old tired timetable. Let's review the lines and see where people are living."

But as the operator of the system, Connex cannot purchase new trains and make changes to timetables or increase services without Government approval. The Department of Infrastructure's train plan from 2003, obtained by The Age, showed at least 60 new trains needed to be purchased to cope with increased patronage from 2009. PTUA president Daniel Bowen said the lack of planning by the Government for new trains "was bordering on incompetence".

His comments came after Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky confirmed that the Government had paid $100,000 for nine Hitachi carriages that were initially sold off in 2002 for $2600 each. "They should also be making better use of the existing fleet, ensuring that frequent services run beyond the current peak hours, to help spread passenger numbers," Mr Bowen said. "The people of Melbourne have spoken with their feet and they want more trains."

Ms Kosky defended the purchase and said the second-hand trains would allow for four extra services a day, capable of transporting another 3200 passengers. She would not be drawn on whether the Government would fund new trains in next week's state budget. Opposition public transport spokesman Terry Mulder said it was an appalling lack of planning and said passengers should not be surprised to find themselves soon travelling on steam engines.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


25 April, 2007

Hollywood Celebrities Challenged To Take The "Gore Pledge"

Senator Inhofe Asks Hollywood's Global Warming Activists "Are You Ready to Change the Way You Live"

In the spirit of Earth Day, James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, today issued a challenge to all Hollywood global warming activists. Senator Inhofe challenged celebrities to do what former Vice President Al Gore refuses to do - live up to their environmental rhetoric by reducing their home energy usage to the level of the average American household by Earth Day 2008. Global warming Hollywood activists such as Laurie David, John Travolta, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Madonna - to name a few - continue to alarm the public about fears of catastrophic global warming and demand that Americans change the way they live. The question remains however, will these same Hollywood alarmists reduce their own energy consumption by giving up their multiple houses and private jets to change the way they live? At the very least, will they pledge to reduce the energy usage at each of their multiple homes?

"With Earth Day this Sunday, I am issuing an Earth Day Challenge to Hollywood's global warming activists who talk the talk to walk the walk," Senator Inhofe said. "I am asking celebrity activists to take the `Gore Pledge' to reduce their home energy usage to that of the average American. Activists in Hollywood who assert that mankind only has 10 years left to act in order to avoid a climate catastrophe have made personal energy use a cornerstone of their pleas to the general public to save the planet. Hollywood activists should make personal energy sacrifices themselves before demanding others do so.

"It is my hope that journalists will ask these Hollywood celebrities point blank: `will you take the Gore Pledge to reduce your home energy usage to the level of the average American? Have you met the Earth Day challenge?'"


Senator Inhofe originally presented the challenge to former Vice President Al Gore at an EPW Committee hearing on March 21 - to which Gore refused, despite the former Vice President asking viewers in his movie An Inconvenient Truth "Are you ready to change the way you live?" Following the hearing, Senator Inhofe created a new website with a daily counter to track how many days it has been since Gore has refused to take the pledge. Today, the counter stands at 30 days. See: The Gore "Personal Energy Ethics Pledge" reads as follows:

As a believer:

-that human-caused global warming is a moral, ethical, and spiritual issue affecting our survival;

-that home energy use is a key component of overall energy use;

-that reducing my fossil fuel-based home energy usage will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions; and

-that leaders on moral issues should lead by example;

-I pledge to consume no more energy for use in my residence than the average American household by one year from today


Greenie versus Greenie again

ENVIRONMENTALISM is dead. True, there are plenty of events Sunday marking the 38th anniversary of Earth Day. But most of the causes Americans associate with traditional environmentalism - recycling, cleaning up a local waterway, protecting a piece of open space, saving an endangered species or even cleaning up the air - well, they're pretty much irrelevant now.

It's not that such green activism is ineffective (as two progressive activists, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, asserted in a provocative 2005 white paper, "The Death of Environmentalism"). My point is more basic. Environmentalism is dead because the vast majority of environmental causes simply don't matter any more. They don't matter in the way that holding a full house doesn't matter when the guy across the table is holding four aces. Traditional environmental concerns have been trumped by a single, overriding problem: global climate change. Henry David Thoreau asked, "What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"

Environmentalists today face a similar question. Why fight for a local or even national cause when a global change could erase any victory? Preserving a beach ecosystem becomes meaningless if the coast is obliterated by a rising sea. Putting polar bears on the endangered species list is risible if the Arctic ice cap melts away to nothing each summer. If you are a dyed-in-the-wool environmental activist, that funny feeling you have is the ground shifting beneath your feet.

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes building two new dams in the Sierra, as he did in January, and argues that if California is going to have enough water, they are necessary to compensate for an expected reduction in the state's winter snowpack, how is a good green to respond?

Once upon a time, there was no target so quick to be challenged by the Sierra Club & Co. as another dam - and these dams certainly will be challenged. But Schwarzenegger is right; we should be doing what we can to prepare for climate change, and while I don't know if those dams are a good step, I do know that the governor's argument signals a new, brutal calculus for environmentalists.

Already, old-school environmentalists Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, and Stewart Brand, who created the Whole Earth Catalog, have embraced nuclear power as a lesser evil than climate change. Are environmentalists entering an era of wrenching hand-wringing as they choose among evils?

I hope not. Instead of triage, the right response is to accept the hard truth that the only thing that matters is controlling global warming and preventing catastrophic climate change - and then to fight like never before to do that. The dedicated, single-focus activists who make up so much of the environmental movement may, in the future, still be able to save the redwoods, or the Mexican gray wolf, or the whales - but only if we save ourselves first.

It is ironic that what's killing old environmentalism - so long derided by its critics as elitist, fringe and special interest - is a problem that is, at last, both universal and personal for every human on the planet. Climate change makes moot past environmental issues precisely because it isn't about an obscure species or remote place. It's about us, and our fate. It is about the real possibility of the unraveling of modern civilization. When a cause becomes the central concern of a society, it ceases to be a cause. It becomes an organizing principle for an era and its people. Environmentalism may be dead, but we're all environmentalists now.


The Greens of Wrath

Post lifted from No Pasaran

What is Earth Day really all about? Virtually nothing but greed and fantasy determinism. While some miss the entire point of the strife of the 20th century to respect the autonomy of the individual, they try to recreate "creating the new man" arguments, others are just playing at your emotions to pick your pocket. Appealing to good-old fashion group hatred, a company selling shoes used this layout in a recent fake "magazine" mailer curiously named "The Stool Pigeon."

Their faithful customers will be forgiven for not knowing that this company which presumes to be all about environmentalism, proximity of production, and all of the fetishes now though of as some sort of virtue, their SEC filing tells another story about this peddler of expensive shoes pretending to be "all Santa Barbara" (California), mailing out of Arizona, and trying to seem Hawaii surfin' cool:

Simple is our moderately priced "anti-brand," serving the needs of a youthful, irreverent consumer base seeking the comfort of athletic footwear but the styling of more traditional, understated, _back-to-basics_ footwear. Simple was launched in the early 1990's and has been recently revised to focus on its successful legacy categories, including sandals, clogs and casual athletic footwear. Simple enables us to leverage our core footwear design and production competencies in channels of distribution not served by Teva or UGG.

Our independent manufacturers are located outside the U.S., where we are subject to the risks of international commerce.

All of our third party manufacturers are in the Far East, Australia and New Zealand, with the vast majority of production performed by four manufacturers in China.
In other words they are a subsidiary of one of those vaunted "corporations!" engaging in "globalization!" which will give $5 with every pair sold to yet another outfit of self-proclaimed do-gooders called for purposes they refuse to state.

Earth Day is an "anti-brand" for a lot of things, virtually all of them discredited, including planned societies and economies where industry, consumption, and daily common behavior is regulated,

It is an "anti-brand" for the vehicle with which people can hate the success of others and displace their own individual failures, inabilities to realize personal success using science and reason,

It is an "anti-brand" for discredited notions of radicalism which lost all hope of being accepted as anything other than a violent ideology imposed on an unwilling majority by an adolescent minority who are acting out emotions of envy and hatred on others, using as a pretense their efforts at your "salvation". Heaven knows, you've been naughty, and as long as you can be placed in a subservient position, someone who is otherwise a personal failure by any normal metrics will chide you.

Somehow, Mr. and Ms. Inhabitant of earth, you aren't just their enemy, but you MUST do what they tell you, and you MUST support them at the same time. If you aren't already suspicious, you should be.

How infantile can you get?

Singer Sheryl Crow and environmentalist Laurie David have been traveling across America on a two-week Stop Global Warming College Tour, which winds up today at George Washington University. Crow and David (co-producer of the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and wife of "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry David) have been touting their cause and chronicling their travels in a rather idiosyncratic blog. Here, on Earth Day, are a few excerpts:

David (4/10, Dallas): I am jogging outside in 40 degree freezing cold . . . 70 degrees in January and 40 degrees in April. That is exactly why Sheryl Crow and I are in a biodiesel bus going thru the Southeast visiting college campuses to talk about the urgency of this issue and how everyone . . . everyone . . . has to start doing something. I would write more, but I have to go run warm water over my hands and thaw out from my run.

Crow and David (4/18, Nashville): Our other surprise was a visit by former Vice President Al Gore who sat and talked with us on the bus about what he hopes to see happen in this country as the stop global warming movement catches fire. Having the former Vice President visit was like having your dad show up for Father's Weekend at the sorority house. We were giddy with excitement and proud to show him our home away from home.

Crow (4/19, Springfield, Tenn.): I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming. Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.

Crow (4/19): I also like the idea of not using paper napkins, which happen to be made from virgin wood and represent the height of wastefulness. I have designed a clothing line that has what's called a "dining sleeve." The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another "dining sleeve," after usage. The design will offer the "diner" the convenience of wiping his mouth on his sleeve rather than throwing out yet another barely used paper product. I think this idea could also translate quite well to those suffering with an annoying head cold.

Crow (4/19): This next idea I have been saving but I will share it with you if you promise not to steal it. It is my latest, very exciting idea for creating incentive for us all to minimize our own personal carbon footprints. It's a reality show. (I feel pretty certain NO ONE has thought of this yet!) Here is the premise: the contest consists of 10 people who are competing for the top spot as the person who lives the "greenest" life. This will be reflected in the contestant's home, his business, and his own personal living style. The winner of this challenging, prestigious, contest would receive what??. . . . a recording contract!!!!!

David (4/20, Charlottesville): Sheryl couldn't be with me tonight because of a previous commitment [Crow traveled to New York for a show that wasn't part of the tour] but luckily rock stars have rock star friends. Tonight, I spoke outside the gorgeous Charlottesville pavilion, in front of a couple of thousand slightly inebriated college men (there to see the wonderful Robert Randolph and the Family Band) who were forced to sit through the opening act . . . me. Truly, it was one of the most challenging 20 minutes of my life. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw guys yawning, I heard kids saying "where's the music?" and I think I heard the "b" word. I rushed through the speech and when I walked off the stage I immediately burst into tears. Not because I took anything personally but because it was so clear how much work is still to be done. Tonight served as a stark reminder that social change is a journey and I learned tonight that not every stop is going to be easy.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


24 April, 2007

Some reviews of: "How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich"

Edited by Franz-Josef Bruggemeier, Mark Cioc and Thomas Zeller

"The environmental ideas, policies, and consequences of the Nazi regime pose controversial questions that have long begged for authoritative answers. At last, a team of highly qualified scholars has tackled these questions, with dispassionate judgment and deep research. Their assessment will stand for years to come as the fundamental work on the subject and provides a new angle of vision on 20th-century Europe's most disruptive force."

-John McNeill, author of Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World

"The thesis brought forward by the editors regarding the `modernity' of National Socialism is exciting.... The volume raises key questions and provides a very good basis for engaging with the history of conservation under Nazi rule."

-Historische Zeitschrift

"While it may not be the final statement on the Green dimension of National Socialism, it certainly counts among the most serious and thoughtful...."

-Technology & Culture

The Nazis created nature preserves, championed sustainable forestry, curbed air pollution, and designed the autobahn highway network as a way of bringing Germans closer to nature. How Green Were the Nazis?: Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich is the first book to examine the Third Reich's environmental policies and to offer an in-depth exploration of the intersections between brown ideologies and green practices.

Environmentalists and conservationists in Germany welcomed the rise of the Nazi regime with open arms and hoped that it would bring about legal and institutional changes. However, environmentalists soon realized that the rhetorical attention they received from the regime did not always translate into action. By the late 1930s, nature and the environment had become less pressing concerns as Nazi Germany prepared for and executed a global conflagration.

Based on prodigious archival research, and written by some of the most important scholars in the field of twentieth-century German history, How Green Were the Nazis? examines the overlap between Nazi ideology and conservationist agendas. This landmark book underscores the fact that the "green" policies of the Nazis were more than a mere episode or aberration in environmental history.


"KEEP 'EM IN THE DARK" argue today's Greenie "scientists". Green Nazism is not dead

Airing the views of climate change sceptics in the media only serves to keep controversy boiling, scientists have told the World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne, Australia. Kevin Hennessy, Australian scientist and lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II report, said today (18 April) that media attention on "the view of a handful of climate change sceptics" amplifies their opinions and "implies that there is little agreement about the basic facts of global warming".

Speaking in a session about climate change reporting, he said editors and journalists have a duty to ensure that facts are presented in context. Balanced reporting, he said, "perpetuates the public's perception that scientists are in disarray, which is misleading in the case of climate change".

Geoff Love, vice chair of the IPCC Working Group II, said that the IPCC assessment reports ? from 1990, 1995, 2001 and February 2007 ? are strong evidence of "the coming together of the scientific community" and that emphasis on the sceptic view does not help public understanding of climate change.

Media coverage has not always reflected the consensus of the majority of the scientific community, said Ian Lowe, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation. "That only makes the public and political discussion more difficult," he said.

The problem is compounded by a lack of reporting on climate change, according to Chris Mooney, a US-based science journalist. Although the 2006 hurricane season attracted a lot of media attention, Mooney presented statistics from the United States showing that climate change has never been a priority in the media.

The situation is similar in Africa, said Kenyan SciDev.Net correspondent Ochieng' Ogodo. Articles about deaths caused by floods or other natural disasters, and political scandals related to climate change tend to get precedence, he said.



As we mark the 38th Earth Day tomorrow, it's worth noting that this secular "religion" has led many Americans to fervently believe some things that just aren't true. Environmentalist values plainly deserve a place in making public policy. But we shouldn't be guided by myths that are provably false. Yet a recent survey by Zogby International for the Manhattan Institute found that, when it comes to energy and the environment, the public is more inclined to believe myths than to have a firm grasp of basic facts. Polling 1,000 average Americans on assorted energy and environmental issues, we found a wide disconnect between what people "know" and what is actually true.

What are the myths propagated by the Church of Environmentalism? Consider the pronouncements from the greens' "Vatican": Last Earth Day, Greenpeace USA exhorted its followers to action because "our forests are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate." More, we must switch to "clean alternative" energies like wind power, because "we all know that fossil fuels contribute to global warming." A lot of people agree. Nearly 67 percent of those in our survey said they believe human activity, such as logging and development, is shrinking our forests. It seems self-evident; after all, the population continues to grow, and we build more and bigger buildings. So why wouldn't we be losing forestland?

But it's not so. Yes, the United States lost forestland throughout much of the 19th century, as the new nation grew - but the amount of forestland stabilized throughout much of the 20th century. You can thank technology and progress for that, not any government scheme to save trees. The fact is that our footprint over nature is shrinking - because housing and industry don't require anything approaching the acreage that farming demands, and we now need smaller and smaller spaces to provide the necessities of life. Machines have replaced work animals (also cutting down the land needed for grazing). Crops deliver richer yields in smaller spaces. Today we harvest 80 million fewer acres of cropland than we did 60 years ago. And our overall per-capita timber consumption is half of what it was a century ago. Result? According to the Forest Service, we have actually seen a net reforestation since 1985. We aren't losing forestland, we're gaining it.

Greenpeace's call for replacing fossil fuels with cleaner alternatives might make sense, but only if there were any realistic alternatives available. Presently renewable energies like wind power, solar power and ethanol aren't close to being able to substitute for the coal, natural gas and oil that make up the lion's share of our energy sources. Coal provides half our electricity today. Wind and solar provide less than 1 percent. More, alternative fuels can be as land-hungry as agriculture. The typical 1,000 megawatt coal or nuclear plant might sit on a few acres. To generate the same amount of electricity with renewables would require 60,000 acres for a utility-scale wind farm, or about 11,000 acres of photovoltaic cells capturing the sun's light. Ethanol, too, can't be produced in the massive quantities required to make a significant dent in our gasoline consumption - and its production depends on vast tracts of farmland, too.

Other myths?

* More than four of every five poll respondents said that our cities are getting dirtier. In fact, pollution has been slashed since 1970, and our cities are far cleaner today.

* A majority believes our chief supplier of foreign oil is Saudi Arabia. In fact, it is our friendly neighbor to the north, Canada. All told the Persian Gulf supplies just 17 percent of the oil we import, and just 11 percent of all the oil we use.

This Earth Day, Greenpeace and its fellow environmental ecclesiasts will once again call on their flocks to take action. By all means, let us safeguard the environment - but with steps rooted in fact, not myth.


Global warming? Do the math

Originally from Canada's "National Post", Monday 9 Apr 2007

"UN Report Proves Canada Must Act Now On Climate Change," trumpeted the headline of a Liberal party press release on Friday, timed to correspond with the release of yet another alarmist UN summary on climate change. "Canada must act aggressively now to avert the destructive consequences of climate change," the Liberals insisted. "Canada must be ready for a carbon-constrained future," said party leader Stephane Dion. "Human beings can't continue to use the atmosphere as an unlimited and free dump . It is within our power to prevent the worst of the effects of climate change."

This, of course, marks the second alarmist release by the UN this year, both coming before its own scientific report on global warming is even out. Just why would the UN release these teaser summaries before its actual scientific findings are available? It could it be that the science is becoming less alarming as scientists learn more, so the UN wants to maximize the public hysteria before its catastrophic forecasts for the future can be checked against the more moderate scientific truth.

We already know that the coming report -- the fourth by the UN in 15 years -- will say that maximum projected temperatures over the next century will not be nearly as high as projected in the last report in 2001; that man has contributed less to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than originally thought; and that sea level rise will be only a few inches, rather than the several feet once thought. Yet the so-called "summaries for policy makers" are becoming more shrill each time: Species will be wiped out, crime will rise, starvation will kill hundreds of millions, disease will become rampant, islands will disappear beneath the waves, deserts will consume entire continents.

Science goes down, UN hysteria goes up. Curious, isn't it, how that plays into the UN's desire to be at the centre of a global effort to plan human activity? But let's look at just what the global-warming theory implies and at Mr. Dion's charge that humans, Canadians included, are dumping massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Think of the atmosphere as 100 cases of 24 one-litre bottles of water -- 2,400 litres in all. According to the global warming theory, rising levels of human-produced carbon dioxide are trapping more of the sun's reflected heat in the atmosphere and dangerously warming the planet. But 99 of our cases would be nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%), neither of which are greenhouse gases. Only one case -- just 24 bottles out of 2,400 -- would contain greenhouse gases. Of the bottles in the greenhouse gas case, 23 would be water vapour.

Water vapour is the most abundant greenhouse gas, yet scientists will admit they understand very little about its impact on global warming. (It may actually help cool the planet: As the earth heats up, water vapour may form into more clouds and reflect solar radiation before it reaches the surface. Maybe. We don't know.)

The very last bottle in that very last case would be carbon dioxide, one bottle out of 2,400. Carbon dioxide makes up just 0.04% of the entire atmosphere, and most of that -- at least 95% -- is naturally occurring (decaying plants, forest fires, volcanoes, releases from the oceans). At most, 5% of the carbon dioxide in the air comes from human sources such as power plants, cars, oilsands, etc. So in our single bottle of carbon dioxide, just 50 ml is man-made carbon dioxide. Out of our model atmosphere of 2,400 litres of water, just about a shot glassful is carbon dioxide put there by humans. And of that miniscule amount, Canada's contribution is just 2% -- about 1 ml.

If, as Mr. Dion demands, we honoured our Kyoto commitments and reduced our current CO2 emissions by one-third -- which would involve shutting down all the coal-fired power generating plants in Canada (and living with constant brownouts and blackouts); or taking all the cars or all the commercial vehicles off the roads; or shutting down the oilsands; or some combination of all these -- we would be saving one-third of 1 ml -- the tip of an eyedropper. And somehow, that is supposed to save the planet from warming; the tip of one eyedropper out of 2,400 bottles of water.

That might be true if carbon dioxide were the most toxic substance ever discovered by man. But it is not. We each expel it every time we exhale. It's hard to imagine how such a tiny amount of a benign substance could cause the end of the planet. Maybe Mr. Dion could explain that in his next press release.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


23 April, 2007

Canada looking at Bush's Green Bloc

Because I really cannot resist: Glenn Reynolds posted this interesting bit about Canada considering walking from Kyoto and joining the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6). That would be this program, which the press ignored in 2005.

Yes, it's a Bush idea, which is why you have probably not heard anything about it. No one has, of course. You're not allowed to know that President Bush is green, because that ruins the narrative, doesn't it?

As I have said before - if the Global Warming situation were the undeniable and scientifically proven "crisis" some would have us believe, the town cryers would be applauding any and all initiatives. That they do not tells you all you need to know about whether something is real or simply a political wedging tool.

Source. (See original for links)

Kyoto study raises alarm in Canada

Tories' dire economic warnings about swift emissions cuts dismissed by opposition as `shock and awe' communications

Canada could face a deep recession, sky-high energy prices and about 275,000 fewer jobs if it slashes greenhouse gas emissions to meet its Kyoto targets, according to an economic analysis prepared by the Conservative government. Environment Minister John Baird presented the report yesterday to a Senate environment committee that is studying a Liberal bill that would force a massive cut in emissions - about 270 megatonnes by 2012 - when they are still increasing. Baird said the government would need to "manufacture a recession" in order to meet Kyoto as the legislation, Bill C-288, demands. "The government would need to introduce major punitive measures to get the deep cuts in emissions in the very short time frame required by (the bill)," he said.

But opposition parties jumped on the study, calling it a Tory "shock and awe communications" strategy. Even Quebec Environment Minister Line Beauchamp, whose government has been friendly to Ottawa, described the federal study as alarmist. "The assumptions of the scenario are extremely severe," she told a news conference.

In the Commons, NDP Leader Jack Layton said the report "deliberately deceives the Canadian people about the impact of Kyoto obligations." Liberal environment critic David McGuinty said the study is skewed because it artificially restricts the use of international emission trading and ignores the job creation that would come with a new focus on green technologies. "Of course it's hard to get the job done without tools," McGuinty said. "That's like saying it would take years to build a subway line with teaspoons."

The study comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Baird prepare to roll out a revamped climate change plan, likely next week, with mandated emission reductions for industrial polluters like Ontario's coal-fired electricity plants and Alberta's oil sands. It is expected to include targets for reductions that will fall well short of those set out in the Kyoto treaty.

Harper gave a spirited defence of his government's much criticized performance on the environment in the House of Commons. "The reality is ... you do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one-third in less than four years and have a positive effect on the economy," he said. "This party has no intention of doing anything that's going to destroy Canadian jobs or damage the health of this economy."

The government received a major boost with the endorsement of five independent economists, who reviewed the analysis before its release and sent letters saying that they agreed with its general findings. Mark Jaccard, a professor of environmental management at Simon Fraser University, said the study backs up his own research that it is now impossible to meet Kyoto's 2012 targets without causing a recession.

The government's Kyoto impact study predicts that individual Canadians could see natural gas prices double and electricity prices rise by 50 per cent over five years, changing $90-a-month bills into $145-a-month bills. Gasoline prices would rise more than 60 per cent to $1.60 a litre before 2012. More than 275,000 Canadians could lose their jobs by 2009 and the unemployment rate would rise by 25 per cent, while the gross domestic product would decline by 6.5 per cent, the study estimates. The proposed bill would result in a carbon tax on industry of about $195 per tonne of carbon.

Green Leader Elizabeth May said a carbon tax, which is designed to make it more expensive for industries to pollute, should be set at between $30 and $50 a tonne. She said the study's elevated figure was intended to create a picture of "economic disaster." In addition to Jaccard, TD Bank's Don Drummond, the University of Calgary's David Keith, McGill's Christopher Green and Informetrica's Carl Sonnen signed off on the Kyoto study. Drummond, TD's senior economist, said the bill would ruin Canada's competitiveness.


Britain: Using environmentalism to make a buck (or a pound!)

Not many revolutions start with cheese and onion crisps, but this week they led the charge into carbon footprint labelling as Walkers tried out the Next Big Thing in the battle to drive the green agenda. Retailers are clamouring to demonstrate their green credentials and answer demands for more information about the energy involved in producing the weekly shop. Research by the Carbon Trust has found that two thirds of consumers say that they want to know the carbon footprint of the products they buy.

However, carbon labelling could be in danger of descending into the same farcical situation as nutritional labelling, with competing schemes run by rival retailers making it difficult for consumers to know which one to trust. Ian Cheshire, chief executive of B&Q, told a forum on ethical business at the World Retail Congress in Barcelona: "This is an issue on which retailers need to agree an industry standard but at the moment companies are working on a variety of separate schemes."

Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, announced plans with great fanfare in January to develop a "commonly understood measure" of the amount of carbon emissions related to every product sold. The supermarket said that it wanted to develop a Sustainable Consumption Institute to lead the project and commissioned the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at Oxford University to help to devise a measurement scheme. Tesco insisted that it wanted to "collaborate with others around the world" on the project and convened a meeting with rival retailers J Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer, as well as its suppliers Unilever and PepsiCo to help to discuss how things might progress. A further meeting of about 20 stakeholders including rival retailers and suppliers is set for early next month at the ECI. Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco's chief executive, said this week that he expected to have some products labelled by January. "We are getting a favourable reaction from other retailers and from around the world. It is probably the most remarkable communication we have ever made," he said.

However, Sainsbury's, M&S, Boots and a number of other companies have already been working with the Carbon Trust, a government-backed body dedicated to helping businesses to cut their carbon emissions, on a labelling scheme. Boots, Walkers and Innocent drinks have committed themselves to testing the Carbon Trust-backed scheme and its logo will become increasingly apparent in stores over the next few months. Marks & Spencer also has just completed a project with the Carbon Trust to map the emissions generated by its food products, although the retailer believes that it is some years away from being able confidently to label goods.

The Carbon Trust's scheme attempts to calculate and represent the amount of carbon emissions generated in the production of an item and examines the supply chain behind a product. It includes a commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of the product over time. If the producer cannot demonstrate it has reduced carbon emissions over a two-year period, it will no longer be allowed to use the label. Euan Murray, strategy manager for the Carbon Trust, said that the organisation was working with other groups of companies and aimed to announce further trials in the next few months. He said that, although Tesco was carrying out its own research, "they see the world very much as we do and we are trying to create a single way of measuring carbon footprints of products which we think is critical to the success of the venture".

Sir Terry said that Tesco was "keen to work with everybody" and insisted that retailers were not headed for a re-enactment of the traffic light nutrional labelling debacle. However, he pointed out that the scheme he envisaged was slightly different from the Carbon Trust's proposed concept because it aimed to take into account the carbon used during consumption. "We are not trying to gain competitive advantage on the thing," Sir Terry said. "You have got to start the process. There is a danger if you went for a single standard that it would never get off the ground. "The danger of trying to be too prescriptive is that you lock flaws in. It is better to be a little more flexible until things are on track and people have more experience of them."


Australia: Now it's cool to be carbon neutral

It's fashionable to take highly visible action on greenhouse, says environment writer Matthew Warren

The public debate on climate change is fracturing. Abstract and global v tactile and personal. Kyoto v the Toyota Prius. Climate change is the motivation for international agreements and global frameworks, but in the gap between awareness and substantial action has blossomed a new retail and commercial fashion. Carbon is the new black.

If it weren't for television, many of us wouldn't know what a power station looked like. But we are now part of an alarming and earnest UN-scale debate on intergenerational changes in energy generation, on the morality of China building a new coal-fired power station every week while millions sit in the dark in India and Africa waiting for theirs.

The essence of climate change is a debate over how to deliver against colossal targets to cut invisible gases by staggering quantities over decades. It leads to talk of fantastic plans to capture and store billions of tonnes of liquid carbon dioxide kilometres under the ground, or of solar power plants kilometres wide and long, new global stock markets buying and selling carbon credits, whatever they are, and the lure of fortunes to be made by the clever, offset by the threat of broadacre misery for the seemingly inevitable losers.

Last year public awareness on climate change lit in Australia. Nearly a year on and the concern is turning into impatience. In this temporary hiatus between populism and policy, there is a boom in households and businesses that want to make statements about their concern. In a vacuum of real market and policy signals we are happy to invent our own urban myths. Fortunes are being made selling the fashion of climate change.

Hybrid petrol-electric cars are on the rise in Australian cities, with sales more than doubling in the past year driven mainly by fleet buyers, although they still represent less than 0.5 per cent of total new car sales. The Prius hybrid engine car has been a big hit for Toyota since its reintroduction in 2003. It outsells the rival Honda Civic hybrid by a ratio of about two to one, even though the Honda is $3000 cheaper.

But, then, the Honda looks just like a Civic. The Prius's unusual styling sets it apart from other cars on the market and tells the world that the owner has paid about $10,000 extra for the cachet of driving with environmental impunity. Honda Australia spokesman Mark Higgins says the Prius's sales strength is in business and government fleets, where brand recognition on the environment is on the rise. "One of the major reasons people buy the hybrid Civic is that people want to do their bit for the environment, they want low emissions, low fuel consumption, and they don't want it to stand out from the crowd," he says.

British supermarket chain Tesco has signalled it is thinking of introducing food miles labelling on all the products it sells as a response to climate change. The idea is that food that has been imported thousands of kilometres will have made a much greater contribution to greenhouse gas emissions than locally produced foods. The scientific basis for this claim is much less certain. The full life cycle of foods includes primary production, preparation, packaging, retailing and disposal. Preliminary research by Australia's food processing industry in 2003 suggests transport is among the lowest contributor to greenhouse.

Incorporating the full cost of greenhouse into energy prices would be the simplest way of demystifying this claim. But why wait? At an international conference of science journalists, Roger Short from the University of Melbourne called for an end to cremation to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Instead he suggested everyone be buried upright in a cardboard cylinder beside their favourite species of tree. During cremation the average male body produces more than 50kg of carbon dioxide as it is heated to 850C for 1 1/2 hours. It's about the same level of emissions as a dozen cars attending the funeral. Should they be banned, too?

Solar panels and hot water systems are the Prius of household energy systems: modern, energy saving, expensive and highly visible. Rooftop solar panels to augment domestic electricity consumption start at about $12,000 a house; solar hot-water systems cost about $3000 but have a much better payback period. Most state governments have introduced hefty rebates for their installation: the Greens think they should be mandatory and Labor leader Kevin Rudd has promised to increase the subsidy for household solar panels.

But a study by McKinsey&Co on the technology pathway to reduce greenhouse gases has identified the first, and cheapest, solution is neither of these pricey options. It is insulation. About 2.5 million homes in Australia are still not insulated, most of these rental dwellings. Insulation is a relatively cheap and simple change that could cut 27 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Insulation Council president Dennis D'Arcy says the problem with insulation is that it is too cheap and simple. "Insulation is very cheap compared (with) these other solutions and it has been around a long time. There's nothing new or bright and shiny about it," he tells Inquirer. "Gizmos are visible and are very obvious signs that you are doing something. That seems to excite people a little more and they seem to excite governments. If you insulate a suburb of houses, who knows you've done it?"

In the present market of high visibility on climate change action, companies, the AFL and even newspapers are declaring themselves carbon neutral, although energy experts and academics are concerned the market is moving too far ahead of the regulations needed to police it. And there are signs some buyers may not understand what they are buying.

Carbon markets consultant Cheryl Bowler from Energetics says the term carbon neutral should be based on a full life-cycle assessment of a company's or household's operation, but in some cases it is being interpreted selectively. "It's probably more a case that (the term) is being used naively because people aren't aware of what their carbon footprint is: they calculate just their energy-related emissions , but they can be leaving out a large proportion of what they are responsible for," she says.

The fast-moving retail greenhouse market has already experienced problems with claims about the definition of green and renewable power. Regulators had to tighten key rules and definitions in the national greenpower accreditation scheme after it was found some retailers were exploiting loopholes to sell zero-cost green energy to householders from sources such as the Snowy hydro scheme.

Since the start of this year retailers have been required to source a minimum of 10 per cent accredited greenpower from new generators to stimulate investment in low-emission energy sources. "The language becomes a little murky for a general consumer to determine the difference between renewable power or clean power or renewable energy," Deloitte energy expert Lorraine Stephenson says. "If you are getting offered something for nothing and it relates to new renewable energy, then you have to be a little suspicious."

Associate professor in energy systems at the University of NSW Hugh Outhred is concerned about the validity of credits generated by schemes such as NSW's greenhouse gas scheme GGAS, which continues to generate credits for demand management and efficiency gains in electricity generation as emissions continue to increase. "In NSW we have this implausible situation where each year we get a report on how well the scheme is going and yet in the fine print emissions continue to increase," he says.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


22 April, 2007


Sceptics of the seriousness of global warming complained on Wednesday of not being heard by the public or policy makers while warning governments to take a second look at the scientific consensus on climate change. Scientists who doubt the scope and cause of climate change have trouble getting funding and academic posts unless they conform to an "alarmist scenario", said Roger Helmer, a British member of the European Parliament, at a panel discussion on appropriate responses to rising global temperatures. "If global warming is happening, we can then ask: is it accelerating and is it likely to be catastrophic?" he said. "Many people think not."

European Union leaders agreed in March to try to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least a fifth compared with 1990 levels by 2020 and as much as 30 percent if other industrialised and emerging countries joined in. The EU pledge came shortly before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which groups 2,500 scientists and is considered the world authority on the issue, said all regions of the planet would suffer from a sharp warming.

David Henderson, an economist at the Westminster Business School in London and former head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD, said governments had given the IPCC a monopoly on climate advice. "The very idea of creating a single would-be authoritative fount of wisdom is itself dubious," he said, urging countries to seek a more balanced approach than the IPCC and to stop pursuing programmes to urgently reduce carbon emissions. "In this area of policy it's high time for governments to think again," he said.

Mahi Sideridou, climate policy director at environmental group Greenpeace, rejected criticism of the IPCC. "Saying that the IPCC is not balanced is probably the most ridiculous claim that anybody can make," she said, stressing the group's reports were based on scientific consensus. The IPCC findings are approved unanimously by more than 100 governments and will guide policy on issues such as extending the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the main U.N. plan for capping greenhouse gas emissions, beyond 2012.

Benny Peiser, a professor at Liverpool John Moores University, questioned the methods used by climate scientists. He said many were recognising that using computer modelling to predict an "inherently unpredictable future" was illogical. "Today's scientific consensus very often turns out to be tomorrow's redundant theory," he said. He said that scientific journals refused to take papers from scientists who doubted climate change.

Most scientists say climate change will cause seas to rise, glaciers to melt and storms to intensify, potentially leading to more natural disasters around the world.



The paper below was presented at the conference "Climate Change: Evaluating Appropriate Responses". Brussels, European Parliament, 18 April 2007 by Benny Peiser, Liverpool John Moores University, Faculty of Science, Liverpool L2 3ET, UK --

Two weeks ago, climate experts and government officials from 130 countries released the latest IPCC Summary for Policy Makers on the 'Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability of Climate Change'. The IPCC's predictions of the future were carefully scrutinised by governments and generally accepted. Despite attempts to tone down some of the more alarming language, the latest IPCC report predicts that unrestrained warming will cause mass extinctions, devastating floods, heatwaves, storms and droughts that may trigger economic disaster and social upheaval.

There can be little doubt that scientists, science organisations and the dominant science media have been instrumental in turning doom-laden computer models into an apocalyptic consensus. For the last 10 years or so, there has been a relentless outpouring of disaster predictions that have been published with little hesitation and rising alarm by the world's leading science journals. Any lingering reservation about looming catastrophe has been silenced by science editors and environmental journalists. Uncertainties have been conveniently disregarded and highly unlikely worst case scenarios exaggerated. Not since the apocalyptic consensus of the Middle Ages has the prognostication of impending doom and global catastrophe on the basis of mathematical modelling been as widely accepted as today. No question about it: The IPCC's disaster predictions have been converted into a general consensus among the world's political and academic elites.

Ironically, these apocalyptic predictions of the future are politically sanctioned at the same time as a growing number of scientists are recognising that environmental and economic computer modelling of an inherently unpredictable future is illogical and futile (see, O.H. Pilkey and L Pilkey-Jarvis: "Useless Arithmetic: Why environmental scientists can't predict the future", Columbia University Press, 2007). As the eminent mathematician David Orrell has pointed out persuasively: "The track record of any kind of long-distance prediction is really bad, but everyone's still really interested in it. It's sort of a way of picturing the future. But we can't make long-term predictions of the economy, and we can't make long-term predictions of the climate. Models will cheerfully boil away all the water in the oceans or cover the world in ice, even with pre-industrial levels of CO2 When models about the future climate are in agreement, it says more about the self-regulating group psychology of the modelling community than it does about global warming and the economy." (David Orrell, "Apollo's Arrow. The Science of Prediction and the Future of Everything", 2007)

Be that as it may, the reality of the IPCC consensus should not be underestimated. Its political weight and growing demands for drastic economic intervention is posing a serious political predicament for many governments, most of which find themselves unable to control let alone reduce CO2 emissions that are rising almost everywhere.

Paradigms, Consensus and Falsification

Science based on "consensus" is a tricky business. I am agnostic about it because the history of science tells us that today's consensus can, and quite frequently is, tomorrow's redundant theory. There are certain types of general agreements in science that are more compelling and more durable than others. In some areas of empirical science, like solar system astronomy, there is more agreement because the data is more robust and the methods less complex. The more complex the science and the less reliable the data, the more scientific controversy you should expect to find.

On the other hand we also know that science tends to produce - and in fact needs - scientific paradigms -- which is perhaps a better word than consensus. So I have really no problem with the fact of a majority consensus on climate change. But science would quickly come to a dead end without the constant and necessary attempts to falsify the leading paradigm of the day, particularly those that are weak and based on contentious data, dodgy methodologies and flawed computer models.

Indeed, some critics argue that climate science has almost reached such a cul-de-sac. The scientific endeavour involves both the protectors and challengers of each and every paradigm. Both are essential to the health and dynamic of a highly competitive enterprise that is science. No consensus is sacrosanct. And it is in the very nature of science and science communication that all reasonable positions and counter-arguments should be heard. The ongoing controversy about hurricanes and global warming is a perfect example of the predicaments of consensus science. It also demonstrates that advocates who exploit the consensus argument against climate sceptics are more than happy to oppose the consensus - if it helps to further an alarmist agenda.

For a long time, and until fairly recently, natural variability was the lead paradigm underlying the dynamic changes in hurricane frequency and intensity. In the last two years or so, a small number of papers published in the world's leading academic journals Science and Nature have cast doubt over this long-established paradigm. Climate campaigners and science journalists jumped to conclusions and claimed: "The old paradigm is dead - long live the new paradigm!" It is noteworthy, however, that both the recent consensus statements by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) as well as the latest IPCC statements on hurricanes and global warming maintain rather than overturn the old paradigm. At the same time, they caution us about the weight of the new papers.

I believe this is an encouraging development because it would appear to raise the requirements for overthrowing old paradigms. Let me also remind you about the dodgy process that removed from the old IPCC consensus the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age and replaced it with the notorious Hockey Stick consensus. A few enthusiastically received papers were able to overturn the old consensus - mainly because they undermined the important argument by climate sceptics about the degree of Holocene climate variability. Science journalists bought into the new Hockey Stick "consensus" sink line, and hooker [Good one!]. However, their prejudice was evidently laid bare by the extraordinary reluctance to report or report impartially about its flaws and the controversy it generated.

Similar problems can be observed regarding the thorny issue of sea level rise: is it more or less steady (as the IPCC claims) or is it accelerating, as climate alarmists claim? The mainstream science media have no qualms in hyping up new papers that go against the IPCC consensus. At the same time, the same outlets ignore other studies that confirm an inconvenient consensus that climate alarmist regard as too conservative and thus pose an impediment for political action.

I could go on and on: while alarmist claims and predictions are routinely puffed up by the science media and environmental journalists, studies that come to more moderate and less alarmist conclusions are habitually ignored or discredited for being too cautious.

From editorial bias to confirmation bias

Over the last 10 years or so, the editors of the world's leading science journals such as Science and Nature as well as popular science magazines such as Scientific American and New Scientist have publicly advocated drastic policies to curb CO2 emissions. At the same time, they have publicly attacked scientists sceptical of the climate consensus. The key message science editors have thus been sending out is brazen and simple: "The science of climate change is settled. The scientific debate is over. It's time to take political action."

Instead of serving as an honest and open-minded broker of scientific controversy, science editors have opted to take a rigid stance on the science and politics of climate change. In so doing, they have in effect sealed the doors for any critical assessment of the prevailing consensus which their journals officially sponsor. Consequently, their public endorsement undoubtedly deters critics from submitting falsification attempts for publication. Such critiques, not surprisingly, are simply non-existing in the mainstream science media.

But there is more to the problem than just editorial promoting of the scientific consensus. After all, such behaviour is not restricted to the issue of climate change. Editorial bias is often found among other science journals on many other controversies. Much more problematic is the reality of a strong confirmation bias among science editors. While the phenomenon of confirmation bias is an intensely researched and well established form of selective thinking among medical and economic researchers, this methodological impediment is completely ignored in climate science.

Any careful examination of the publishing record of leading science journals will show that science editors too tend to favour the publication of papers that confirm their publicly stated beliefs rather than question them. That is why science editors habitually ignore or treat with contempt any evidence that contradicts their core beliefs. Many critical scientists can confirm that prominent science editors have turned down their papers and have become reluctant to the point of refusal to publish any evidence that attempts to refute their favoured theory.

Of course, climate scientist themselves are routinely accused of confirmation bias for running statistical models and framing their data in such a way that it predictably confirms their hypothesis. After all, research into confirmation and other biases has shown that the scientific method incorporates an inherent tension between hard data and their interpretation by scientists with deeply held convictions. Good science journals critically evaluated and peer review the quality of data and the likelihood of error.

This deceptively reliable process of scrutiny and quality control, however, is itself prone to confirmation bias: peer reviewers selected by biased editors are more likely to accept evidence that supports their own prior belief while rejecting arguments and data that may challenge these convictions (Kaptchuk, 2003). Any science medium that ignores or fail to appreciate these inherent pitfalls of climate science can no longer be regarded as trustworthy.

The end of fair and objective science journalism

For the last few years, a number of influential climate scientists and science writers have conducted a campaign against the principles of fair and balanced journalism that epitomize open and pluralistic societies. The main accusation against impartial reporting on climate change is quite simple: An article in the Boston Globe on climate change journalism sums up the key argument: "More and more environmentalists and climate scientists have been making the point that ''objective" journalists are doing as much as anyone (except maybe Hummer enthusiasts) to forestall action on global warming." (Christopher Shea, Boston Globe, 9 April 2006) Or, in the words of media analysts Boykoff and Boykoff: "A more subtle factor that helps explain US inaction (sic) also exists: journalists' faithful adherence to their professional norms (like objectivity, fairness, accuracy, balance)... (Boykoff and Boykoff, Geoforum 2007, in press)

In short, climate campaigners and science activists are concerned that any doubts or uncertainties expressed in the media may hinder the political objective for drastic action. No wonder then that science editors and campaigners have employed strategies to discourage or intimidate reporters from even asking climate sceptics about their assessment. Michael Mann (Penn State University), for instance, has warned science writers that even to quote a climate sceptic would be regarded as if they had granted ''the Flat Earth Society an equal say with NASA in the design of a new space satellite." (Boston Globe, 9 April 2006). The editor of Scientific American, John Rennie, publicly refers to dissenters as ''denialists" and said that "to give them even one paragraph in a 10-paragraph article would be to exaggerate their importance." (Boston Globe, 9 April 2006)

Occasionally, a probing science reporter dares to challenge these forms of coercion despite the threats of mockery and intimidation. In such cases, a whole army of climate campaigners and bloggers will rush to assail the insubordinate journalist, as science writers such as Bill Broad and John Tierney of the New York Times can attest.

In Britain, it has become routine for leading science organisations such as the Royal Society to press-gang the media against publishing critical reporting on climate change. Lord May, the former, president of the Royal Society publicly censured newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail for publishing sceptical articles and comments. May also tried to silence respected writers such as David Bellamy, Melanie Phillips and Michael Hanlon by intimidating them personally. In 2005, the then vice-president of the Royal Society, Sir David Wallace, warned the British media not to publish anything that distorted the official view of climate science: "We are appealing to all parts of the UK media to be vigilant against attempts to present a distorted view of the scientific evidence about climate change and its potential effects on people and their environments around the world. I hope that we can count on your support." (The Daily Telegraph, 16 May 2005)

The attacks by science editors and campaigners on critical scientists are not only fuelled by political considerations. Sometimes they are due to blind faith in an apocalyptic future, as a recent editorial in New Scientist reveals: "One of the most corrosive contributions of climate sceptics has been to promote any uncertainty as an excuse for inaction. In truth, the remaining uncertainties should be making us redouble our efforts to mitigate climate change. It's a fair bet that much of what we do not yet know for sure will turn out to be scarier than most of us like to imagine." In other words, the editors of New Scientist are certain that what we do not know today will, upon knowing it in the future, prove to be even worse than they fear. Evidently, such hyperbole has nothing to do with science but belongs to the realm of superstitious divination.

While climate campaigners are trying to frame even the political and economic debate in the traditional fashion of a conflict between consensus and dissent, the political debate is no longer about action versus inaction. The real issue today is about the most cost-effective ways of dealing with climate change: revolutionary transformation of the global economy, as advocated by climate alarmists, or gradual adaptation and adjustment as proposed by climate moderates.

The role of the science media as the maid of government policy

Climate campaigners and environmental media analysts have become convinced that their crusade against impartial science reporting has been won comprehensively. According to this view, the neo-catastrophist framing of climate change has been generally accepted by most science journalists and is now consistently communicated by most news media outlets.

Yet campaigners worry that the political battle is far from won. Thus, in a recent article published by the British Journalism Review, media researchers Eleni Andreadis and Joe Smith warn that the next contest poses an ever greater challenge to science journalism: "We are entering a period when careful interpretation and communication of the economic, political and social dimensions of climate change will be vital. Failure to tell these aspects of the story could be of even greater significance than the painfully slow arrival at the basics of the science. The media will offer the context within which we decide the If, How and When of transforming energy-hungry lifestyles and economies... The open terrain of these questions presents media decision-makers with a new set of challenges, and the way they handle scepticism will again be central to their performance." (British Journalism Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, February 2007).

Andreadis and Smith underscore the role of journalists in framing the climate change debates and assisting governments to enforce drastic policies: "Their principal question should be: Will this help to reduce emissions dramatically, or is it a way of only denting the status quo?". Andreadis and Smith have delineated the science media's political role in no uncertain terms. In a illuminating paragraph, they outline new programme of salvationist campaign journalism: "In dealing with these [climate change] stories the media will also need to marry their critical faculties to a commitment to enable debate about action and change. You can barely fill a taxi with senior mainstream politicians from Western Europe who do not believe action to mitigate and adapt to climate change is necessary. But most are frightened of sticking their necks out. They need to be given the space to think and experiment and lead public debate on action." (British Journalism Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2007).

In other words, the role of science and environmental journalists is to provide governments with media support that will enable reluctant decision makers to enforce unpopular policies.

The crisis of science communication

Despite the majority consensus among climate scientists, science organisations and governments, there is a sizeable minority of researchers, economists and political observers who are concerned about the apocalyptic nature of climate hype and the potential risk it poses for political and economic stability. Sceptical researchers have and will continue to publish critical papers that question important parts of even some fundaments of the current climate consensus. Will the science media provide a platform for these critiques? Will they discuss the weight of their evidence and the validity of their arguments? Or will the science media continue to ignore challenges to the status quo?

The absurdity of the science media's handling of climate science is well illuminated in this week's issue of New Scientist. In an editorial, the editors try to square the principle of falsification (which they claim is vital for science to progress) with their belief that any such attempt would undermine political attempts to mitigate climate disaster: "Some scientists are challenging our ideas on climate change, which is vital if we are to progress. But to overturn present thinking will need very strong evidence because, as the IPCC states, confidence in the idea that anthropogenic warming is changing our world has never been higher." (New Scientist, 14 April 2007).

Yet, at the same time, the editor's zealous defence of the apocalyptic climate consensus and their fierce resistance to provide critical researchers a forum for rebuttals or falsification attempts undermines their own integrity.

Let me conclude: The integrity of the science media will depend on whether it will encourage critique and fault-finding analysis by consensus sceptics - or whether they will continue its course towards unbalanced campaign journalism. Given the well-documented reluctance of mainstream science media to accept submissions by critical scientists and the aversion to report on critical papers published elsewhere, I remain unconvinced that science journalism will moderate its blinkered attitudes in the near future.

The diverse groups of critical analysts and researchers will need to develop alternative infrastructures and media outlets if they wish to provide open-minded science writers with judicious evaluations of disaster predictions and a genuinely impartial assessment of evidence. Given the evident biases mainstream science media and environmental journalism has chosen to adopt, there is a growing demand for more balanced and even-handed coverage of climate change science and debates. Scientists and science writers who are concerned about the integrity and openness of the scientific process should turn the current crisis of science communication into an opportunity by setting up more critical, even-handed and reliable science media.


By David Henderson of the Westminster Business School. The text that follows formed the basis for a presentation to a meeting in Brussels on 18 April 2007, organised by Roger Helmer MEP, on the subject of 'Climate Change: Evaluating Appropriate Responses'


I am not a climate scientist. I am an economist, and I became involved with climate change issues, more by accident than design, some four and a half years ago. To start with, I was chiefly involved with some economic and statistical aspects. Over time my interests and concerns have broadened, though I do not at all claim to have become an all-round expert on this vast array of topics.

Increasingly, I have become critical of the way in which issues relating to climate change are viewed and treated by governments across the world. This is my theme today. I believe that governments, and with them the European Commission, need to think again. My concerns are of two kinds. They relate, first, to the basis for official thinking and policies in this area, and second, to the actual content of policies in many countries, including my own, and in the European Union. In my talk today I will focus almost entirely on the first concern, with only a few concluding words about the second. Under both headings, there is much more that could be said.

A tale of three documents

Climate change issues are especially topical right now, because of the publication of two weighty, officially-commissioned and potentially very influential reports. The larger of these two official publications, scheduled to appear in full in the course of this year, is the IPCC's AR4 - in other words, the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. All told, the whole set of documents making up AR4 may well run to 3,000 pages of text, and some 2,500 experts from around the world have been involved in its preparation.

The second report is already in the public domain. It is the Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change. The Review was set in motion by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer in July 2005. A text was posted at the end of October last year, and this has now been published in book form, with some extra material added.

The Stern Review is not on the titanic scale of AR4. All the same, it is a weighty document. The main text comprises some 550 pages, and covers a very wide range of issues including both ethical and scientific aspects. Besides these two major officially-sponsored reports, a third contribution should also be noted. In July 2005, the month in which the Stern Review was commissioned, the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs issued a report on precisely the same subject as that of the Review: it too is entitled 'The Economics of Climate Change'. The Select Committee was a notably high-powered body, and its Special Adviser was the leading British environmental economist. Its report was unanimous.

The rest of my remarks fall under three headings:

* First, I comment on the Stern Review and the debate that it has given rise to.

* Second, I place these comments in the wider context of the IPCC's AR4. In doing so, I will raise questions about the role of the Panel and the professional credibility of the IPCC process.

* Third, I offer some brief conclusions and recommendations.

The Stern Review: debate has been joined

The Stern Review paints a dark and dramatic picture of the risks and threats that could arise, over the next two centuries and after, if anthropogenic emissions of (so-called) 'greenhouse gases' are not brought under control in the near future and then progressively and substantially reduced. The Executive Summary begins with the statement that 'The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change presents very serious global risks and it demands an urgent global response'.

The Review has been widely hailed, across the world, as an authoritative guide to thinking and policy. At its launch in October, our Prime Minister asserted that:: '... what is not in doubt is that the scientific evidence of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions is now overwhelming... [and] ... that if the science is right, the consequences for our planet are literally disastrous... what the Stern Review shows is how the economic benefits of strong early action easily outweigh any costs.' Her Majesty's Opposition have reacted in precisely the same way, while the only comments on the Review from the British business world that I have seen have likewise been uncritically favourable.

A widely accepted view in Britain is that 'the science' was settled already, well before the appearance of the Stern Review, and that now, thanks to Stern, 'the economics' is also settled: the basis for immediate and far-reaching action has thus been firmly established. To quote the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a recent speech, 'The Stern report [sic] has given us the economic evidence on which to act'

Unusually for a document prepared under official auspices, the Review incorporates in the text a number of high level outside endorsements. Among these, four come from Nobel prizewinners in economics, one from the Head of the International Energy Agency, and another from the President of the World Bank.

However, there are dissenting voices. I am one of an international group of dissenters, and we are by no means alone. Well before the Review saw the light of day, it seemed to a number of us, including both scientists and economists, that we would find much to query in its arguments and conclusions; and when the text appeared, our expectation was fully borne out.

I conceived the idea of a dual critique: we would combine to prepare twin review articles, one authored by a group of scientists (actually, in the event, two of them are engineers), and the other by a team of economists, each covering its own set of issues but linked together. I managed to sell this project to a journal editor, and the result was published in January. Volume 7 Number 4 of World Economics carries both of our texts.

Our main verdict on the Review, in a word, is that it is a biased, a heavily biased, exercise in speculative alarmism. Other commentators, including some leading environmental economists, have also voiced criticisms of the Review; and in the forthcoming issue of World Economics Sir Nicholas and others associated with the Review will be replying at length to us and other critics. Debate has been well and truly joined.

The shadow of AR4

A surprising feature of the Stern Review is that it seems to pay little attention to the argument and evidence presented in AR4 - even though successive complete draft texts of AR4 were made available to member governments and participants in the IPCC process from about the time that the Review was commissioned. Sharp-eyed journalists in Britain have noted that in some respects the Report is less tilted towards alarming possibilities than the Review. In the light of these apparent differences, an obvious question arises. How far does this latest IPCC report lend support to the Stern Review case for 'an urgent global response'?

Clear answers to that question have recently been given, in the context of the first volume of AR4, the report of the Panel's Working Group I, by high level official persons closely involved in, or connected with, the IPCC process.

* Dr Pachauri, the Chairman of the IPCC: 'I hope this report will shock people [and] governments into taking more serious action'.

* Achim Steiner, the Director-General of the UNEP: 'in the light of the report's findings, it would be "irresponsible" to resist or seek to delay actions on mandatory emissions cuts'.[1].

* Yvo de Boer, Secretary-General of the UNFCCC: 'the findings ... leave no doubt as to the dangers that mankind is facing and must be acted on without delay'.

* Stavros Dimas, the EU's Commissioner for the environment: 'a grim report'.

In interpreting such statements, it is worth bearing in mind that in none of them is the wording directly drawn from the Report. These eminent persons were not actually quoting AR4 text: they were putting their own personal gloss on it, and giving their own views as to its implications for policy, as they were fully entitled to do.

Even aside from such high-level pronouncements, however, it could be argued - I might have made the argument myself, had I not been drawn into these issues - that just how much weight should be placed on the Stern Review is a minor matter. It could be said that even if the Review represents an extreme position - which is of course debatable - and even if economists continue to wage their own inconclusive private wars, the case for immediate and far-reaching global action to contain emissions has been made, independently and authoritatively, in the past and current work of the IPCC. Let me tell you why I am personally not convinced by this very reasonable-sounding argument, because of the doubts that I have come to hold in relation to the IPCC process.

The wider context: the IPCC and the problem of unwarranted trust

Since its creation in 1988, the IPCC has come a long way, and has achieved a great deal. As a result, it has established itself, in the eyes of most if not all its member governments, as their sole authoritative and continuing source of information, evidence, analysis, interpretation and advice on the whole range of issues relating to climate change, including economic issues. It has acquired what is effectively a monopoly position.

While recognising its achievements, I believe that there are good reasons to query the claims to authority and representative status that are made by and on behalf of the Panel, and hence to question the effective monopoly that it now holds. To begin with, the very idea of creating a single would-be authoritative fount of wisdom is itself open to doubt. Even if the IPCC process were indisputably and consistently rigorous, objective and professionally watertight, it is imprudent for governments to place virtually exclusive reliance, in matters of extraordinary complexity where huge uncertainties prevail, on a single source of analysis and advice and a single process of inquiry. Viewed in this light, the very notion of setting consensus as an aim appears as questionable if not ill-judged.

In any case, the ideal conditions have not been realised. In my opinion, the IPCC process is far from being a model of rigour, inclusiveness and impartiality. In this connection, there are several related aspects that I would emphasise.

* Its treatment of economic issues has been flawed. Writings that feature in the Third Assessment Report contain what many economists and economic statisticians would regard as basic errors, showing a lack of awareness of relevant published sources; and the same is true of more recent IPCC-related writings, as also of material published by the UNEP. In this area, the IPCC milieu is neither fully competent nor adequately representative.[2]

* The Panel's emphasis on peer-reviewed published work, though understandable, takes too much for granted. Standard peer-reviewing processes do not necessarily serve as a guarantee of quality, reliability and objectivity.

* In peer-reviewed work that the IPCC has drawn on, the authors concerned have failed to make due disclosure of data, sources and procedures, and the IPCC has not required them to do so.

* The response of the IPCC milieu to informed criticism has typically been inadequate or dismissive. A conspicuous example was the British government's official response to the report from the House of Lords Select Committee.[3]

* Both the Panel's directing circle and the IPCC milieu more generally have an endemic bias towards alarmist assessments and conclusions. Note that, in speaking of the Panel's 'directing circle' I refer, not to the 2,500 or so experts who have contributed to the preparation of AR4, but to a more restricted, higher-level and more influential set of participants. These are the people who run the show.

Let me bring in here the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs. That report deals with many subjects, but for me its most striking feature, and a welcome one, was the concerns that it expressed about the IPCC. Given the credibility which the IPCC has acquired, it is truly remarkable that a group of eminent, experienced and responsible persons, drawn from a national legislative body and spanning the political spectrum, with the help of an internationally recognised expert adviser, and after taking and weighing evidence, should have published a considered and unanimous report in which the work and role of the Panel are put in question.

How (you may ask) has the Stern Review treated the questions raised about the IPCC process by various writers and by the Select Committee in particular? The answer is surprising. Although the Review is long and wide-ranging, the text makes no mention of any of the criticisms that have been directed towards the IPCC process. Moreover, although the lists of references in the Review extend to around 1,100 papers and studies, that inventory of 1,100 does not include the report from the Select Committee. There are other significant omissions, but this one is the most striking and the least excusable.

To sum up under this heading, I believe that there is a problem of unwarranted trust in the IPCC process and in the role of the Panel itself, a problem which the Stern Review shows no awareness of.

Policy aspects

Finally, a word on policy aspects. Here I offer two conclusions relating to the basis of policy, followed by a brief post-script on the content of policies to limit CO2 emissions. The first of my conclusions is simple. Policymakers, officials and commentators should not join our Prime Minister, Her Majesty's Opposition and leading British business firms and organisations, by endorsing, uncritically and without qualification, the arguments, findings and recommendations of the Stern Review. Contrary to what these and other eminent persons have presumed, the Review does not 'show' what is the case, and the debate on the economics of climate change remains open and unsettled.

My second conclusion, which is more fundamental, is this. In relation to climate change, a clear present need is to build up a sounder basis than now exists for reviewing and assessing the issues. Governments should think again. Rather than pursuing as a matter of urgency ambitious and costly targets for curbing CO2 emissions, they should take prompt steps to ensure that they and their citizens are more fully and more objectively informed and advised. A process of review and inquiry needs to be established, which is more impartial, more representative and more balanced than that which the IPCC and its controlling departments and agencies have built up and shown themselves unwilling to change. I have made specific proposals, so far to no effect, as to the kinds of action that might be taken to secure this result.

Last of all, a word on the choice of policies designed to limit and reduce emissions. Here the main point was well made last month by Martin Wolf in his Financial Times column, where he wrote that: '...any workable policy system must be global; it must create stable incentives; it must be administratively simple; it must include investment in creation and dissemination of new technologies; and, not least, it must allow people to get on with their lives with as much freedom as possible. Uniform prices on emissions - ideally, through taxation - will do most of this job. Almost everything else is unnecessary or counterproductive.'[4]

Current official policies, actual and prospective, have many features that come under the heading of 'unnecessary or counterproductive': Wolf's article refers, appropriately to 'a host of interventionist gimmickry' Not only is there good reason to query the officially approved basis for climate change policies, but many of the specific policy initiatives that have been taken are open to serious question. This is my second reason for believing that governments should think again.

[1] This and the following quotation are than from a report (3 February) in the Financial Times.

[2] Ian Castles and I have jointly put forward a critique of some leading aspects of the IPCC's economic work, while authors involved in that work have contested our criticisms. The debate was reviewed and carried further in a recent article of mine entitled 'SRES, IPCC, and the Treatment of Economic Issues: What Has Emerged?' (Energy and Environment, Volume 16 No. 3 & 4, 2005). It is too early to rate the treatment of economic issues in AR4, but we were critical of the decision to use the SRES - i.e., the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, published in 2000 - as the point of departure for it.

[3] I commented on this document in an article entitled 'Report, Response and Review', published in Energy and Environment, Vol 17, No 1, 2006.

[4] Martin Wolf, 'Why emissions curbs must be simple', Financial Times, 16 March 2007.

Conservative climate skepticism in South Australia

A SOUTH Australian Liberal senator has signalled a hardline policy on tackling climate change by dismissing man-made pollution as a cause of global warming. In an essay urging scepticism on global warming published on the AdelaideNow website, Senator Cory Bernardi argues science is being distorted and manipulated to present a one-sided view to the public. Senator Bernardi is a confidant of Finance Minister Nick Minchin and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer and his views are likely to have considerable support at senior levels of the Federal Government. It is understood his essay is intended to signal future government policy aimed at prudent measures on climate change, rather than drastic action.

"I have come to believe we're seeing a distortion of a whole area of science that is being manipulated to present a certain point of view to the global public, that is that the actions of man are the cause of climate change," he writes. ". . . I have examined both sides of this debate and, when the alarmist statements are discounted, the scientific evidence that remains does not support the scenario that is being presented to us. The facts do not fit the theory."

His views are a direct contradiction of a wide body of scientific research, most notably the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's "very high confidence" that human activities have contributed to global warming. Australia Institute executive director Clive Hamilton, writing in The Advertiser Review liftout, argues the Government's greenhouse policy has been determined for a decade by "a cabal of powerful fossil-fuel lobbyists" whose commercial interests would be harmed by cuts in carbon emissions. But Senator Bernardi says the existence of climate change itself is not contested - arguing Earth's climate "has continually evolved and changed". He says it is the extent of man's contribution that is in doubt.

"The more you read into this situation, the more the claims that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for our warming climate do not add up," he says. "However, to deny man's contribution is to risk the wrath of those looking for a set of circumstances to suit their own agendas. "This is of great significance, since governments of the world are facing intense political pressure to act immediately to reduce human carbon emissions."

Prime Minister John Howard has declared himself a "climate change realist" and is expected to introduce a national emissions trading scheme after receiving a report on the issue by the end of next month.

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd in Washington yesterday urged the U.S. to ratify the Kyoto protocol, saying climate change was the great moral, environmental and economic challenge facing the world. "On this question, our respective national positions are compromised by our refusal so far to ratify the Kyoto protocol," Mr Rudd said.

Senator Bernardi challenges scientific consensus on man-made carbon emissions causing global warming, saying "there is equally enough evidence to the contrary" and even "scientists on the IPCC concede there is room for doubt". He argues that "populist sentiment" is being exploited politically, particularly "by those that have strong anti-Western and anti-industrialisation agendas". "This populist pressure to immediately reduce carbon emissions, based on increasingly disputed extreme scenarios and without consideration of the true cost to our prosperity should really make us question the wisdom of changes such as those proposed by federal and state Labor," Senator Bernardi says. Labor proposes cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent of 2000 levels by 2050 and introducing a national emissions trading scheme by the end of 2010. "As of yet, Labor has neglected to provide any details as to how they will achieve this emissions cut . . . although one thing we know for sure is that nuclear energy is ruled out," Senator Bernardi says.

The Federal Government is urging consideration of nuclear energy as a low-emission alternative for electricity generation. Dr Hamilton argues "there is compelling evidence" that the Government has both quarantined Australia from global efforts to tackle climate change and "actively set out to sabotage the Kyoto protocol".



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


21 April, 2007

"Stop everything" does not always help

A PROTECTED rainforest in one of the world's richest biodiversity regions has suffered an alarming collapse in amphibians and reptiles, suggesting such havens may fail to slow the creatures' slide towards global extinction. Conservationists working in a lowland forest reserve at La Selva in Costa Rica compared records from 1970 to show that species of frogs, toads, lizards, snakes and salamanders had plummeted on average 75 per cent in the past 35 years.

Dramatic falls in amphibian and reptile numbers elsewhere in the world have been blamed on habitat destruction and the fungal disease chytridiomycosis. But scientists hoped many species would thrive in dedicated reserves, where building, land clearance and agricultural chemicals are banned.

The findings suggest an unknown ecological effect is behind at least some of the losses and have prompted calls for urgent studies in other protected forest areas. The researchers, led by Maureen Donelly at Florida International University, believe climate change has brought warmer, wetter weather to the refuge, with the knock-on effect of reducing the amount of leaf litter on the forest floor. Nearly all of the species rely on leaf litter to some extent, either using it for shelter, or feeding on insects that eat the leaves.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed sharp declines among two species of salamander, whose numbers fell on average 14.52 per cent a year between 1970 and 2005. Frog species fell too, with numbers of the mimicking rain frog falling 13.49 per cent and the common tink frog 6.69 per cent.


Do we need some more of these?

A fossil tree with its roots and leaves still attached has provided a tantalising glimpse of what the Earth's first forests looked like long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Wattieza trees covered vast swaths 385 million years ago, before even amphibians managed to clamber on to land, and had such an impact that they helped to change the planet's atmosphere.

They were the monsters of their age and are thought not only to have changed the face of the planet but also to have altered even the chemical composition of the atmosphere. The plant, which grew to at least 26 feet (8m) in height and probably to more than 40 feet, looked similar to a tree fern with a long, bare trunk that was crowned at the top with branches and leaves. Millions of the Wattieza trees would have covered the ground in coastal and other lowland regions of the planet 140 million years before the first dinosaurs.

They lived in an era when the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere was much higher than it is today, but would have absorbed it in huge quantities as they grew. By extracting the carbon dioxide, they helped to reduce the gas to levels similar to those today. By doing so they signed their own extinction warrants because they had made it possible for broad-leafed plants to evolve 20 million years later and take over.


Greenie dictatorship resisted

Most Americans believe that dramatic steps are needed to conserve energy and reduce the threat of global warming, but they are willing to go only so far in changing their lifestyles to "go green." A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that more Americans than ever - 60%, up from 48% a decade ago - believe that global warming has begun to affect the climate. A slightly larger percentage think it will cause major or extreme changes in climate and weather during the next 50 years.

And in a reflection of the impact the environmental movement has had on Americans' attitudes in the nearly four decades since the first Earth Day celebration, most people now believe that they should take more steps as individuals - such as riding mass transit and making their homes more energy efficient - to help reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

Even so, most people are wary of any government effort to protect the environment by imposing restrictions on how they live, work or get around. A majority of those surveyed in the poll, conducted March 23-25, said they wouldn't want a surcharge added to their utility bill if their homes exceeded certain energy-use levels. And most Americans would oppose any laws requiring cars sold in the USA to dramatically improve their gas mileage or restrictions on development to try to limit suburban sprawl.

Taken together, the poll responses indicate that Americans are going green on their own terms, depending on their interests and their wallets. The survey comes as a barrage of warnings about global warming - most recently in March, from a United Nations science panel - has transformed the climate-change debate. Going green has moved past politics to become a fashion statement, and big business. It's a shift reflected not just in the Academy Award for An Inconvenient Truth, the film on former vice president Al Gore's global-warming lecture. It's also evident in magazines from Vanity Fair to Fortune, whose recent "green" issues included hints about how to get green - or invest in companies that are.

America's move toward going green also can be seen in the ad campaigns and store aisles of the nation's largest retailers. Wal-Mart, the world's largest buyer of organic cotton, aims this year to sell 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs, which last longer and use far less energy than regular bulbs. The fluorescent bulbs typically cost five to seven times more.

In the USA TODAY poll, Americans showed a willingness to spend more money to help the environment. More than two-thirds of those responding said they should use only fluorescent bulbs in their homes. And 62% said they should buy a gas-saving hybrid car such as the popular Toyota Prius. Gas-electric hybrids typically cost thousands of dollars more than cars with gas-only engines, and buyers usually have to keep the cars for several years to break even financially.

Meanwhile, more than eight in 10 said a company's environmental record should be an important factor in deciding whether to buy its products. And 78% thought spending several thousand dollars to make their homes more energy-efficient is a good idea. But like Ari Adler of East Lansing, Mich., most Americans get more uncomfortable with the idea of going green if it were to mean limiting choices in daily life. Adler says his 2003 Jeep Wrangler "has the aerodynamics of a brick, but I enjoy the vehicle I have." As his old light bulbs burn out, "I'll replace them with fluorescents. But I'll resist the idea that we should be required to do that." Adler, 39, who works in public relations, says he is "one of those people (who) tries to do the right thing for the environment and knows there is more I should be doing, but don't necessarily do."

Indeed, only about half of those polled thought they do a good job personally of protecting the environment. Less than 10% rate their efforts as "excellent." Andy McDonald of South Bend, Ind., says he used to recycle his household trash - until the city made it mandatory and doubled his garbage bill to pay for it. "I was doing it anyway," McDonald says. "They were trying to force me to do it. I don't like that." McDonald, 29, who services motor-home diesel engines, says he often sees contradictions in his customers' commitment to going green. "In the shop, people drive in with $500,000, $600,000, $700,000 motor homes with 500-horsepower engines that get, at best, 6 mpg on the highway," he says. "And yet they tow a hybrid around to drive when they get there. It's better than driving a regular vehicle, but maybe not driving the motor home could be a greater impact."

Products that help people use less energy - or leave a smaller "environmental footprint," as green advocates say - often are more costly than their alternatives, causing some to argue that going green is only for those who can afford it. Those in older homes have to pay several thousands of dollars to replace windows with energy-saving, double-paned glass. Organic food, grown without chemicals potentially harmful to land, water, wildlife and people, costs more. So do hybrid vehicles and electricity generated by wind turbines or solar panels.

In a CBS News/New York Times poll last year, fewer than half of the respondents said they had bought a costlier, "eco-friendly" product during the past year. "The fact is, most of these products sold as 'green' cost more than the alternative," says Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank that dismisses climate-change warnings as scare tactics not based on sound science. "You're already pricing people at the lower end out." He cites a study by an automotive research group, CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore., that calculated total energy use for several car models. Ebell says the overall energy outlay for the Prius - from design to the junkyard - is costlier "than for an SUV like my Chevy TrailBlazer. It takes a huge amount of energy just to fabricate those batteries.".....

Some analysts say the green movement is overhyped. "Despite how ubiquitous this whole green message is, a lot of people still don't know what the hell this is about," says energy marketing consultant Suzanne Shelton of Knoxville, Tenn. A survey by her firm last year found 58% of Americans could not identify a source of "green, renewable or sustainable energy," such as solar or wind. Shelton adds that 10% to 20% of those questioned say they participate in "green power" programs to pay a little extra for electricity generated by wind turbines or solar arrays. She says data from power companies show that no more than 4% actually participate. "Their answers aren't consistent with reality," Shelton says. She says she isn't certain if the responses stem from social pressure to say the right thing or if "they're misunderstanding the terminology."

The USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows wide differences over what the government should do about global warming. About two-thirds favor spending many billions more on research into new sources of energy. But just one-third are comfortable with land-use restrictions to curb suburban sprawl, which necessitates more car trips. Only about a third favor imposing tough restrictions on U.S. industries and utilities.

For some, going green isn't about the environment as much as saving on home energy bills. Austin stockbroker Andrew Ma replaced more than 130 light bulbs with compact fluorescents in his 5,800-square-foot house after "doing the math." "It makes a lot of sense," says Ma, 34. But he says he won't give up his "gas hogs" - a Yukon Denali SUV and a Mercedes-Benz SL600 convertible - "that carry us in style and comfort." "I'm not going to get a Prius. The fun factor is not there yet," he adds. "I do treasure the environment. But I'm not one of the tree huggers."


Most mass transit riders in 50 years: Good news or bad?

A few weeks ago I noticed a startling story in the "Money" section of USA TODAY. The main head announced purportedly good news: RIDERS CROWD PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEMS, and then came that surprising subhead: HIGHEST USE SINCE THE 1950's AT MORE THAN 10 BILLION TRIPS. Sure enough, the body of the article explained that the American Public Transportation Association reported that ridership rose in 2006 some 2.9%, to reach the highest levels since 1957.

Did you know that there were more people using mass transit during the `40's and early `50's than there are today? I most certainly did not. This is an astonishing revelation when you think about it. First of all, the population of the country was barely half what it is today-and yet more people rode mass transit.

Moreover, during the last 50 years we've poured literally hundreds of billions of dollars into the most expensive, glitzy, ambitious mass transit projects in history--- BART in San Francisco, MARTA in Atlanta, MetroRail in LA, plus impressive new projects in Minneapolis, Portland and Washington DC, and nearly everywhere else. With all these elaborate new systems, with high-tech buses, with propaganda about global warming and government policies designed to force you out of your car, it's astonishing to think that more people used mass transit when America had half the people it has today - and none of the high-tech, new rapid transit systems.

No, we didn't use buses and subways more frequently in the long-ago `50's because the service was better: by most measures, it wasn't as good, the buses weren't as comfortable, and some of the huge systems we enjoy today didn't even exist. There was only one reason that more people used buses and trains in those days ---and that was because they were relatively poor, and couldn't afford to own or operate their own cars. As recently as 1960, Americans owned less than 400 cars per one thousand population: many families had no cars at all, and owning more than one car per household represented a privileged rarity. Today, we possess more than 800 cars per 1000 population - approaching one car for every man, woman and child, with two or three vehicles in a typical family.

Of course, many social planners and environmentalists want us give up all those gas guzzlers and get back on the bus like we did fifty years ago. But the change in automobile ownership still gives some indication of the vast distance traveled by ordinary Americans in their journey toward wealth, choices, and personal freedom. Despite the endless whining to the effect that "we've never had it so bad," the number of citizens who own their own homes has soared from barely 50% in 1950 to 70% today, and the typical home itself is more than 50% larger than fifty years ago. In 1950, 24% of homes didn't have flush toilets, and less than 2% had air conditioning. Today, virtually 100% of the places we live enjoy flush toilets (what a relief) and more than 80% of homes boast air conditioning.

It would be easy to continue in this vein, but you surely get the idea: in terms of options, conveniences, comforts, material blessings, opportunities, no generation in the history of the world has lived as lavishly as this generation of Americans.

I recently spent a weekend in Louisville, Kentucky and ended up staying in the same Hyatt hotel as literally hundreds of competitors in a National Indoor Archery Championship. Normal middle class Americans traveled from every corner of the map, carrying their high tech bows in formidable cases - as if they were toting cellos or French horns. Somehow, these ordinary salt-of-the-earth folk could travel to Louisville, stay in a gorgeous hotel, and pursue a sport that they loved with amazingly complicated and ingenious rigs for putting arrows into targets.

I've also recently visited both Las Vegas and Disneyland - neither vacation attraction limited to the rich or the near-rich. Millions of Main Street Americans can save up their money and choose their destinations - enjoying the kind of comfort and elegance and adventure that our grandparents or even our parents could scarcely imagine.

When I grew up, we never stayed in hotels - partially because with four boys my late, long-suffering mother understood her kids might wreck any facility. When we went on vacation together, we invariably went camping - because that was cheap, virtually free. I've spoken to many products of similar families from the 1950's and `60's, where hard-working parents with the Depression mentality couldn't consider wasting money on restaurants of expensive getaways.

There are many other measures of greatness, of course, beyond material well-being --- and the generations that beat Hitler and later Communism certainly deserve gratitude for the achievements, even though they lived far less comfortable, far more circumscribed lives.

Think about the cruise ship industry: hundreds of thousands of Americans can get away in every season of the year and enjoy the sort of treatment, complete with lavish meals and entertainment, which only royalty enjoyed in the past. For a shockingly low price, retirees and young couples and everything in between can pick up an amazing Alaska cruise in downtown Seattle and sail among glaciers and pods of whales. Middle class families that couldn't afford to drive cars to work some fifty years ago, now can afford to ride gleaming luxury liners on vacation.

For many of us, it's worth the effort to try to defend these astonishing, unprecedented opportunities. It isn't necessarily good news that so-called "environmentalists" and various governmental planners have succeeded in driving more Americans onto mass transit than any time in the last fifty years. Giving up your car and getting on the bus may win commendation from Al Gore, but it does represent a lowered standard of living: sacrificing the independence of taking your own wheels to work. Fifty years ago, mom and dad or grandpa and grandma understand that a country that enabled more people to drive their own cars was a country with a rising living standard; today, as liberals try to push people out of those cars, they ought to be honest enough to acknowledge that they're talking about lowering living standards.

The left argues that the threat of global climate change requires precisely such diminished levels of comfort and opportunity, but when people comes to understand these long-term goals they'll hardly see the reduced array of choices for ordinary Americans as a development that's actually worth celebrating.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


20 April, 2007

Another way global warming would be good for you

Global warming could increase a climate phenomenon known as wind shear that inhibits Atlantic hurricanes, a potentially positive result of climate change, according to new research released on Tuesday. The study, to be published on Wednesday in Geophysical Research Letters, found that climate model simulations show a "robust increase" in wind shear in the tropical Atlantic during the 21st century from global warming. Wind shear, a difference in wind speed or direction at different altitudes, tends to tear apart tropical cyclones, preventing nascent ones from growing and already-formed hurricanes from becoming the monster storms that cause the most damage.

The effect of global warming on wind shear is similar to the impact of El Nino, the periodic eastern Pacific warm-water phenomenon that tends to put a damper on Atlantic storms. The sudden development of El Nino was credited for an unexpectedly mild Atlantic season last year, when only 10 storms formed. Debate on the likelihood that human-generated climate change contributes to hurricane development has raged since the 2005 Atlantic season, which produced a record-shattering 28 tropical storms and hurricanes. That season saw some of the most powerful hurricanes in history and produced Katrina, which killed 1,500 people and caused $80 billion damage on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The hurricane threat roiled global oil and gas markets.


Kilimanjaro not melting after all

A fresh assessment suggests the famous ice fields on Africa's tallest mountain will be around for decades yet. Recent concerns that climate warming would rob Mount Kilimanjaro of all its glaciers within 20 years are overly pessimistic, say Austrian scientists. Their weather station data and modelling work indicate the tropical ice should last well beyond 2040.

Precipitation and not temperature is the key to the white peak's future, the University of Innsbruck-led team says. "About five years ago Kilimanjaro was being used as an icon for global warming. We know now that this was far too simplistic a view," said Thomas Moelg. "We have done different kinds of modelling and we expect the plateau glaciers to be gone roughly within 30 or 40 years from now, but we have a certain expectation that the slope glaciers may last longer," added colleague Georg Kaser.

The group's assessment was presented here at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly meeting. It acts as a counterpoint to the most doom-laden projections for the 5,895m-high (19,340ft) peak, which draws thousands of tourists intrigued by the idea of seeing ice just three degrees south of the equator.

The research team has been using three automated instrument stations on the top of the mountain to collect continuous data on temperature, pressure, solar radiation, humidity and wind. The recording effort was in position late last year to witness heavy snowfall, which will have led to a slight increase in Kilimanjaro's overall ice volume. This glacier growth is only temporary, however. The mountain's ice is dependent on the pulses of moist air that sweep across from the Indian Ocean.

Since the late 1800s, these have become less frequent, and the regular snows that would maintain the ice fields are now a rare occurrence in what has become a much drier climate in East Africa. Today, the total ice extent - on the slopes and on the plateau - is about 2.5 sq km, down from more than eight sq km in the early 1900s. Some scientists have drawn a fairly straight-line curve and forecast a rapid final retreat to a totally bare mountain. But the Innsbruck team is more optimistic about the medium term having now put real field measurements into a comprehensive modelling programme. "Glacier recession has been a feature on Kilimanjaro for more than 100 years, but this is the first time we really have a precise understanding of the physical processes that control the glacier-climate interaction on Africa's highest mountain," said Dr Moelg.

This work emphasises the significance of the lack of precipitation (250mm per year on the summit) versus temperature (a mean of -7C). It indicates that glacier mass loss would be about four times higher if precipitation decreased by 20% than if air temperature on the mountain rose by 1C. Furthermore, it suggests that two-thirds of the ice that is lost goes straight into the atmosphere through sublimation (the direct conversion of snow and ice to water vapour). "In recent years many people have talked about 'the melting glaciers of Kilimanjaro'. If one wants to be more precise, I would call it the 'evaporating glaciers of Kilimanjaro'," said Dr Moelg.

This confirms the view that the African peak does not play an important role as a reservoir for water, unlike in the Andes and the Himalayas where some lowland cities and agricultural systems are dependent on summer melt high in the mountains. "This is not a factor at all at Kilimanjaro and it never has been," said Professor Kaser. "If you brought all the remaining ice down to the Amboseli National Park and melted it, the water would only cover the park to a depth of one or one-and-a-half millimetres. There is nothing in terms of water up there."

The Innsbruck research was conducted in collaboration with the University of Otago, New Zealand, and the University of Massachusetts, US. The team stresses that the drying of the East African climate around Kilimanjaro may itself be a regional impact of global climate change.


'Green' rockers lack any cred

FOR all their good intentions, the global Live Earth concerts scheduled for mid-year will still struggle for credibility. The problem: Rock stars. Most are happy enough to preach and tell us how we should live our lives - hitting everything from AIDS to poverty to African adoption and the cancellation of Third World debt - yet, as in this case, their own bona fides often collapse under closer examination.

Already experts are struggling to rationalise the worth of the concerts against the massive amounts of carbon that each will produce; the very enemy the concerts are campaigning against. Britain's University of East Anglia is a world leader in climate change research and there, recently, Dr Keith Tovey said the Wembley concert alone could generate as much as 3000 tonnes of carbon. Considering the average Brit generates just nine tonnes per year, and the average Australian somewhere similar, those are scary numbers.

Sydney, host of one of the seven worldwide concerts, will produce a smaller carbon total but only because the 42,000 seat Aussie Stadium holds less than half the 90,000-strong Wembley. There will be five more concerts around the world - in Tokyo, New Jersey, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai, and each will spew their carbon into the air even as the rock stars climb on stage to tell us to ride pushbikes to work or plant a tree.

Leading the charge in Australia will be Midnight Oil, the John Butler Trio, Wolfmother and maybe even Silverchair. The concerts are the brainchild of the reinvented Al Gore and music promoter Kevin Wall, the man behind the Live 8 concerts two years ago that took up the war on poverty. Like Live 8, Live Earth will be broadcast to an estimated two billion people worldwide, and has already committed the likes of Madonna, Sting, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, Duran Duran, Melissa Etheridge and Genesis, along with the Australian stars. Even before the concert kicks off, though, there are some serious assaults taking place on the stars' credibility. For example, before she joined the crusade, Madonna's Confessions tour last year produced 440 tonnes of carbon dioxide in four months. The Red Hot Chili Peppers also staged a six-month, 42-date tour last year and did most of their travelling on board their private jet. The jet alone produced 220 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Perhaps most hypocritical of all is Gore, the self-appointed saviour of the planet who moved on from politics to make the Oscar-winning environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Just last month the Tennessee Centre for Research Policy did a carbon audit of his home, revealing the former US vice-president had been outrageously wasteful in his personal life. Over the past two years his home consumed energy more than 20 times the US average, yet Gore didn't even have the courtesy to blush when he announced the Live Earth concerts last week. "We hope the energy created by Live Earth will jump-start a massive public education effort," he said. "Live Earth will help us reach a tipping point that's needed to move corporations and governments to take decisive action to solve the climate crisis."

If Gore, as evidenced by his private lifestyle, isn't willing to buy what he is preaching then how many stars of the show are also selling a lie? Indeed, how much of their private excess will the rock stars, who always travel with an entourage, be willing to give up to make the sale? If getting to the venue means giving up their private jets to fly commercial, are they prepared to do it? What if it means climbing on a more eco-friendly train instead? Or is saving the planet, when it gets down to it, really somebody else's problem? You know ... I'm all right Jack, I'm doing my bit. It makes you wonder how much of Live Earth is a PR con.

Part of the con is that each star will "earn" carbon credits during the concerts. A tree will be planted, for example, to offset the carbon generated. Yet can anyone really see Madonna planting a tree if there is no news crew around? There will be hybrid vehicles for travel, food and drink will be sold in biodegradable packaging and CFL (compact fluorescent) lightbulbs will be used where possible. Recycling bins will flood the landscape.

Perhaps the true hero to emerge in all this could be environmental expert John Picard. Signed to overlook the greening of Live Earth, Picard's deal runs for a further 12 months after the concerts. His job is to work with the rock stars and make sure they keep their promises well after the glory has faded. He is a reminder that this is a long-term job, not just a feel-good moment.


UN rebuff for Britain on global warming

BRITAIN has run into a wall of reluctance spearheaded by China after telling the United Nations that there are few greater threats to global security than climate change. The British Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, chaired the UN Security Council's first debate on global warming on Tuesday. Fifty-two countries lined up to speak in the debate, which Britain initiated as it holds the rotating presidency of the council. "This is an issue which threatens the peace and security of the whole planet - this has to be the right place to debate it," Mrs Beckett said.

But China's deputy ambassador to the UN, Liu Zhenmin, was blunt in rejecting the session. "The developing countries believe that [the] Security Council does not have the professional competence for handling climate change, nor is it the right decision-making place for extensive participation," Mr Liu said. China and Russia, among others, warned that the council's mandate was limited to peace and security. So did Pakistan, on behalf of 130 developing nations, which argued that the council was encroaching on more representative bodies, such as the 192-member General Assembly.

Inside the forum, Mrs Beckett said that recent scientific evidence reinforced, or even exceeded, the worst fears about climate change. She warned of migration on an unprecedented scale because of flooding, disease and famine. Drought and crop failure would also cause intensified competition for food, water and energy, and result in economic destruction comparable to World War II or the Great Depression. "Climate change is a security issue but it is not a matter of narrow national security - it has a new dimension," she said. "This is about our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world."

Mrs Beckett quoted a remark made by the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, that global warming was "an act of aggression by the rich against the poor". She was supported by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. "Projected changes in the Earth's climate are not only an environmental concern," Mr Ban said. "Issues of energy and climate change can have implications for peace and security."

British diplomats said the intention of Tuesday's session was to lift climate change to the top of the international agenda. Britain has pointed to the violence in the Darfur region of Sudan as an example of conflict partly caused by land degradation. The Maldives, Bangladesh and other low-lying countries more susceptible to flooding and climate change also pleaded with industrialised nations for action.

Last November, the Stern report suggested that 200 million people could be displaced by rising sea levels and drought by 2050. It said the global economy could shrink by one-fifth. Even Osama bin Laden accused the US in 2002 of harming nature "more than any nation in history". China has created artificial snow in Tibet after experts warned of melting glaciers in the Himalayas. The Tibetan meteorological station had created a fall of 2.2 millimetres, which accumulated to one centimetre, last week, about 4000 metres above sea level in northern Tibet, the Xinhua news agency said yesterday.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


19 April, 2007

USHCN Temperature Record of the Week: Lewiston, ID

To bolster our claim that "There Has Been Little Net Global Warming Over the Past 70 Years," each week we highlight the temperature record of one of the 1221 U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) stations from 1930-2000. This issue's temperature record of the week is from Lewiston, ID. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Lewiston's mean annual temperature has cooled by 0.48 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here!


John Gore Kerry

Post lifted from Don Surber -- which see for links

John Kerry is an Al Gore wannabe. First, he followed him as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. Then Kerry followed Gore in writing an environmental book. Now Kerry has followed him as an energy hypocrite. Cybercast News Service looked at Kerry's electric bills and found Kerry spends $1,100 a month for electricity for his townhouse in Boston.

That is just under the $1,369 per month that the Gores spent on electricity for their home in Tennessee. CNS also reported:

"Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate committee on environment and public works, paid a high of $675 a month and a low of $225 a month in 2005 to power her home in Greenbrae, Calif., according to the utility company Pacific Gas and Electric. Boxer, a proponent of stronger environmental regulation, moved to Oakland last July, but information on her current electric charges couldn't be obtained.

By contrast, global warming skeptic Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) - the ranking minority member of the House energy and commerce committee - appears to be a relatively light electricity consumer. Barton released his electric bill for February at a March 20 hearing - he paid $79.47 in total for both his Texas Utilities bill in Ennis, Texas, home and his Dominion Electric bill for his Arlington, Va., apartment.

Pontificate globally, waste locally.

The latest excuse for not building dams

This is a pathetic bit of propaganda below. The extra cost and use of resources involved in supplying tank water to every household would be HUGE. And don't Greenies claim we are using too many resources already? Every tank has an associated electric pump to make the water accessible so imagine the extra electicity usage of a million such pumps being turned off and on all the time!

PEOPLE living in Sydney and Brisbane get the best value from their water tanks, a report has found, with the rainfall patterns of those cities favouring individual household collection. But the initial cost of buying a tank remains high, the report's survey of 20 tank suppliers found, with a two-kilolitre tank costing an average of $2788 and a 20-kilolitre tank costing $4909.

The report, by the National Water Commission, said water collected in tanks was more expensive than that provided by utilities but it was becoming more cost-effective. On top of the initial price, people had to budget for repairs and cleaning.

The report found that tanks helped households lower their water bills and there were a number of potential benefits that could not be priced. These included "mitigating the effects of water restrictions on [owners'] lifestyle, amenity and property values; improving the taste of water in areas of poor water quality; and a sense of community mindedness". About 17 per cent of households have rainwater tanks, with many state governments offering rebates and requiring their inclusion in new developments.

The report was critical of water utilities' assessments of water tanks, saying they had not presented them "in such a positive light, concluding that tanks are generally less cost-efficient and energy-efficient than many other water supply solutions". The report was also critical of government advertising campaigns. It said they needed to be "more transparent in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of their own programs to encourage rainwater tanks, and more up-front with taxpayers and consumers about the costs and benefits of the subsidies provided".

Sydney and Brisbane consistently recorded the highest amounts of water captured and used, compared with Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. The report said tanks in the two cities compared favourably with dams because many households were closer to the coast where rainfall was more frequent. This had resulted in a "green drought", where dam levels continued to drop despite reasonable rain along the coast. The report suggested people should consider the type of rainfall in their area before installing a tank. Timing of rainfall was more important than quantity.

The report, by Marsden Jacob Associates, found the average five-kilolitre tank should provide 71 kilolitres of water during an average year. Roof size was an important factor in rain capture. A separate report by the same consultants found that if rainwater tanks were installed in 5 per cent of households a year the need for a desalination plant in Sydney could be delayed until 2026. That report, commissioned by environment groups, found installing water tanks in 5 per cent of homes in Sydney, Melbourne and south-east Queensland would provide as much additional water as planned desalination plants in Sydney and on the Gold Coast and the first stage of the Traveston Dam on the Mary River.



Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Friday reiterated his opposition to targets for cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Speaking to reporters after meeting with state government leaders in Canberra, Howard said he had rejected a call to set a target of reducing Australia's emissions by 60 per cent. "We were unwilling, for reasons I have stated publicly, to commit to a particular target because of the possible consequences of that on the economy," the prime minister said.

The Howard government has come under pressure to join every other developed country other than the United States and sign the Kyoto Protocol on curbing climate change. Howard maintains that joining any international scheme to abate climate change would disproportionately affect Australia because it's the world's biggest coal exporter and relies on coal for over 80 per cent of electricity generation.

He rejects Kyoto because it doesn't include China, India and other developing countries in the first-round effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Howard said he would fund a Climate Change Adaptation Centre in Canberra to help prepare the country for warmer weather, less rainfall and rising sea levels.



Former Indian environment minister Maneka Gandhi has criticized the US for not joining the Kyoto Protocol and says India will not follow Europe in carbon dioxide gas emission reduction as energy consumption is already very low in the country.

"Per capita energy consumption in India is already among the lowest in the world," Gandhi, an MP from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told a press conference at the European Parliament here Wednesday. She noted that in 2005, India consumed 520 kgoe (kilogram of oil equivalent) energy per person as compared to the world average of 1,731 kgoe and European average of 4,282 kgoe. "So there is very little to cut back," said Gandhi, who is here to chair the jury of the Energy Globe Award, one of the world's most recognized environmental awards, being hosted by the European Parliament.

The 27-member European Union in March agreed on a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, according to INEP news agency. She said coal-produced electricity consumption will increase in India but if the country at this junction could go to renewables such as solar and wind energy, "I think we could head off the CO2 crisis. Otherwise we are going to go smack-bang into it".

Asked to comment on the US position on the post-Kyoto regime where Washington says it will not cut gas emissions unless India and China do the same, the environmental activist replied: "I am quite certain that America is using us just as an excuse. "If you put all the countries in Asia and Europe they still use less energy and have less CO2 emissions than the US. So for the US to say we will not join the Kyoto protocol unless India and China join is ridiculous."

On nuclear energy, Gandhi said her personal position is not in favor of nuclear energy for India "only because we do not achieve regulatory standards". "It is always shrouded in secrecy...At the moment there is a big debate going on nuclear energy in India. My personal view is that we can't handle it."

On environmental and animal rights issues, she said India and other Asian countries would follow suit if the European Parliament makes laws on these matters. "Our bureaucrats, who usually don't know what to do pinch from European laws and it has a very strong trickle down effect. So if you made the right laws, we would too."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


18 April, 2007

Willful ignorance in IPCC report (WG2 SPM)

An email below to Benny Peiser from Prof. Aynsley Kellow [], Head of the School of Government, University of Tasmania. Pic below

Thank you for publishing Indur Goklany's insightful critique of the SPM for the WG2 Fourth Assessment Report. I would like to add a couple of comments, if I may be permitted.

I was a referee for Ch 19 in the Report on 'Key Vulnerabilities and Risk Assessment', and made in essence the criticism Indur does that the whole exercise fails to take account of the increases in wealth that give rise to the emissions that drive the climate models, that drive the impact models. It is nonsensical to suggest that vulnerabilities will be as they would be if the projected climates impacted upon present developing countries. The Report persists in this nonsense in the face of at least this reviewer drawing it to their attention, so the persistence is quite willful.

It is, of course, such a fundamental criticism that it virtually renders the whole report invalid, so it was not likely too be well-received. I also added that the chapter exaggerated the hazards of climate change and almost totally ignored any benefits. I put it that the First Order Draft read as if (in a warmer, and therefore wetter, world) no rain would fall in any form that would be in any way useful to anyone: there would be only floods and droughts.

The Second Order Draft included some language to the effect that this was because the Committee had decided that it should be so, to which I responded that they should not then represent their analysis as a risk assessment, since any sensible risk assessment must include benefits as well as costs. I'm not holding my breath for this criticism to be taken on board either, which underscores a fault in the whole peer review process for the IPCC: there is no chance of a Chapter ever being rejected for publication, no mattter how flawed it might be.

But then I'll be counted as one of the 2,500 experts who agree with this nonsense!


By Jeff Jacoby (Jeff seems unaware that the Lindzen article appeared only in overseas and online editions of Newsweek. The magazine's editors were not game to put it in their U.S. edition)

"Why So Gloomy?" asks the headline over Richard Lindzen's guest commentary about global warming in the April 16 issue of Newsweek. The cover of the magazine features a dire warning -- "Save the Planet -- Or Else" -- but Lindzen, a world-class climate scientist who holds an endowed chair in meteoroly at MIT, doesn't buy it.

Yes, he writes, the planet has warmed a bit, and human-generated greenhouse gases may be partly responsible, but that is hardly cause for panic. Alarmism over global warming may be in vogue, but climate change is normal -- "the earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year." The current fearmongering, says Lindzen, "rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week."

Though you'd never know it from Al Gore's movie or the latest National Resources Defense Council press release, most long-range global-warming forecasts rely on computer models that Lindzen describes as "inherently untrustworthy." There is still much about climate dynamics that science cannot explain. One puzzle, for example, is why temperatures climbed for two decades before 1940, yet dropped during the decades of the postwar boom, when carbon-dioxide emissions were so much greater.

But to global-warming True Believers, Lindzen's essay is just one heresy after another. It suggests that "a warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now." That extreme weather events might actually be *less* likely in a warming world. That sea levels have been rising gradually for centuries. That higher levels of CO2 could be a boon to agriculture. And that a warmer planet is preferable to a colder one. ("Exposure to cold," he writes, "is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.")

Lindzen is not the only climate expert to express skepticism about global-warming doomsaying -- not by a long shot. But so pervasive has the alarmist narrative become that anyone who dissents from it can expect to be smeared as a shill for polluters or compared to a Holocaust denier. So perhaps Newsweek was just trying to do Lindzen a favor when it ran this credit line following his piece: "Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the US government. He receives no funding from any energy companies."

The implication is about as subtle as a two-by-four. Apparently Lindzen's scientific and professional credentials aren't sufficient to lend authority to his views; readers must be explicitly reassured that "energy companies" haven't paid him off. Well, if that's what it takes to keep climate-change commentary on the up-and-up, fine. But if scientists who take a non-hysterical approach to global warming are going to be scrutinized for ulterior motives, shouldn't we be just as suspicious about the alarmists? There is no shortage of incentives and inducements, after all, for those who paint global warming as a deadly and growing peril.

To begin with, staggering sums of money are channeled to researchers who emphasize the human role in global warming. The greater the sense of anthropogenic crisis, the greater the flow of research grants to address it. And it isn't only government that ladles out the dollars. Last year, Virgin Atlantic Airways founder Richard Branson pledged $3 billion to fight global warming; more recently he offered another $25 million for the first person who devises a way to annually remove a billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. In 2002, ExxonMobil announced a $100 million grant to establish a Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University for research into "the potential long-term risk of climate change." Last week, yet another pot of cash was established to deal with global warming. Are experts who raise alarms about global warming being unduly influenced by such funding?

What about the lucrative and prestigious prizes global-warming alarmists have received? NASA's James Hansen, a prominent global-warming Cassandra, won a $250,000 Heinz Award in 2001. Last month he was a co-winner of the Dan David Prize and its $1 million purse. Other awards and other purses have frequently gone to other prophets of doom. And the potential rewards don't stop there. For those who toe the politically correct line on global warming, there have been big book contracts, hefty speaking fees, worshipful magazine profiles, softball TV interviews -- even an Academy award. Should that automatically call their objectivity or sincerity into question?

Our global-warming debate is contentious enough as it is. The last thing we need is to be disparaging the integrity of every scientist who takes a strong stand one way or the other. Tempting though it may be to think otherwise, not all true believers are scoundrels -- and not every heretic is a shill.


A New Kyoto?

Even though the current agreement is predicated more on faith than science, European politicians are anxious to create a new Kyoto-style pact. This is predictable, especially since it opens up new rationalizations for taxation and regulation. It also is no surprise that the Europeans want to target the United States while simultaneously creating easier rules for other nations. The EU Observer reports:

EU environment minister Stavros Dimas wants increased European efforts to help kick-start an international post-Kyoto climate deal aimed at limiting the world's greenhouse gas emissions. ...Environment ministers from across the world are widely expected to agree on a mandate to start negotiations to replace the UN Kyoto Protocol - the international plan to fight global warming by limiting CO2 emissions which runs out in 2012 - at a December meeting in Bali, Indonesia, this year. ...

The EU executive is keen to get rapidly growing economies such as Brazil, China and India on the bandwagon for a global deal albeit with a "differentiated" treatment to the already industrialised countries. He explained that from meetings with China and India, it has become very clear that if the world's number one CO2 polluter - the US - would not sign up to the agreement, then neither will they. "We have to focus on the US. We must be both cooperative and critical and give them the arguments in order to press the decision makers," Mr Dimas said.


California's Continuing Self-Inflicted Economic Suicide

Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks writes in the Wall Street Journal about California's attempt to limit greenhouse gas. Assuming this bill is not repealed, this will accelerate California's economic decline. But as Kibbe warns, this gives California politicians an added incentive to impose bad policy on the entire nation:

"Assembly Bill 32, the "California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006," makes California the first state in the nation to broadly limit CO2 emissions. Cosponsored by radical groups like Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council, AB 32 establishes an overall cap on the production of CO2 and a mandatory new reporting system to track emission levels across the state. This law will force California to ramp CO2 production back to 1990 levels by the year 2020. ...

Less allowable carbon means less energy. Less available energy, coupled with higher expected demand, means higher energy prices. Higher energy prices mean a booming market in "carbon offsets" for wealthy movie stars and their patrons and extremely unaffordable energy for the rest of working, commuting California. ...even if one agrees that global warming is occurring and that human activities are the cause, California's unilateral restrictions are counterproductive and will simply force businesses to leave the state. ...

The first real casualty of all the hype surrounding global warming seems to be simple economic common sense. Just a few years ago, in 1997, a Senate resolution sharply criticized proposed CO2 limits under the Kyoto Protocol, calling on then-President Clinton not to sign it or any other international climate change agreement that ". . . would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States." The Kyoto Protocol would have compelled the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 7% below 1990 levels by the years 2008 to 2012. Adopting Kyoto-style restrictions would have cost the economy 4.9 million jobs, something Sen. Boxer and 96 of her Senate colleagues apparently found morally, or at least politically, unacceptable.

Unfortunately, with AB 32, California has adopted its own mini Kyoto, so Sen. Boxer, Rep. Pelosi and Rep. Waxman are "all in" at a high-stakes game of tax, cap and trade. This push from the California delegation stands American federalism on its head. Competition and innovation among the states are the driving force behind federalism, but Sen. Boxer and Speaker Pelosi hope to take an extravagantly expensive idea from their state and force it on the rest of us, even as similarly draconian carbon restrictions are failing miserably in Europe.

NOTE: I have fixed some typos in the above article -- but I WAS rather inclined to let "Califonia" stand!


Rising population isn't going to destroy the planet

The BBC's Reith Lectures are not known for their humorous content, but the opening words of the 2007 series had me rocking with laughter. Professor Jeffrey D Sachs [pic above] told his audience that "It is with profound humility that I speak to you". Jeffrey Sachs is a man with many positive attributes, but humility is certainly not one of them. This can be seen in his new book, The End of Poverty, which might well have been subtitled "My plan to save the world". It has an introduction by Bono, which, as one reviewer pointed out, is appropriate: the economist as rock star meets the rock star as economist. Such an alliance must surely have titillated the BBC.

I suppose it will also have been aware of MTV's series The Diary of Angelina Jolie and Dr Jeffrey Sachs in Africa. Alas, Angelina was not among Sachs' audience at the Royal Society, an audience he described (with all humility) as "a unique gathering of leaders of action and thought" - but Geri Halliwell showed up, which was nice. So Professor Sachs is cool.

This is a relatively new phenomenon for the man described by himself as "internationally renowned for his work as an economic advisor to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa". He is indeed renowned for all that, but not, it must be said, universally admired for it. In the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe he and a handful of other Harvard economists introduced so-called "shock therapy", characterised chiefly by instant and massive privatisation and the simultaneous removal of all price controls.

In Russia this was hardly a great success, and not just because of the traumatic consequences in the short term. Sachs insists that Yeltsin, rather than his American advisors, was responsible for the fact that the privatisation policy amounted in practice to the theft by a handful of favoured apparatchiks of the industries previously ran - in its own inimitably corrupt fashion - by the state. The former World Bank economist David Ellerman counters that it was the rapidity of the privatisation which made such an outcome inevitable, declaring that "Only the mixture of American triumphalism and academic arrogance could have produced such a lethal dose of gall."

Not surprisingly, those on the left with long memories are somewhat cynical about Sachs' new plans to solve poverty in Africa, although they warmly endorse his appeal to America to devote more money to international aid and less to international warfare: "I hope he gets what he wants, but that he doesn't get any credit for it", commented David Ellerman, in a somewhat sour jibe at Sachs' elemental ego.

In one respect there is a consistency between Sachs' Russian debacle and what he now demands for Africa. He wanted the US to provide much more in aid to the new Russia, and was openly critical when it failed to come up with the sums he thought necessary. It seems incredible to me that such an intelligent man couldn't see that the same corrupt elites who stole entire industries would appropriate aid dollars with exactly the same attention to detail.

His main academic critic in the US, Professor William Easterly of New York University, is similarly dismissive of Sachs' view that the solution to Africa's problems lies principally in an enormous expansion of aid budgets. Easterly, a former development economist at the World Bank, is the author of The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, cataloguing the corrupt practices which have ensured that almost two-and-a-half trillion dollars of aid have achieved nothing but economic stagnation in Africa.

Sachs' retort is that the aid had been spent in the wrong way - and, of course, he knows the right way. Even supposing that he does, there is still the matter of transmitting the money. Perhaps because Sachs is now a special advisor to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, he proposes that this task be allocated to various UN agencies. These, I take it, would be the same bureaucratic geniuses who managed the Iraq Oil-for-Food Programme.

This is not an argument for ignoring the wretched of the world: Sachs is obviously right that we have a moral duty to do the best that we can, but that will involve learning from those countries which have transformed their prospects over the past quarter century. In Fighting the Diseases of Poverty (International PolicyPress) Indur Goklany points out that, while Sub-Saharan Africa has a higher food supply per capita than it did 25 years ago, its growth in that most basic measurement of individual well-being has been vastly outstripped by China. The world's most populous nation has achieved this by the same means which brought prosperity to the developed world: industrialisation. Aid had nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, however, Professor Sachs seems to subscribe to the fashionable view that this is a bad thing because it is killing the planet. In his first Reith lecture, he denounced something called "The anthropocy, in Beijing, which soon will be the country (sic) that is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet". He linked this to the claim that we - the anthropocy, presumably - are "over-hunting, over-fishing and over-gathering just about anything that grows slowly or moves slowly".

The Malthusian myth is an unconscionable time a-dying. Sachs' first lecture was entitled "Bursting at the seams". Yet humanity has consistently demonstrated that there is no causal link between population growth and increasing poverty. Our numbers are higher than they have ever been - and the average member of our species has never been further from starvation. As Indur Goklany points out, "Since 1950 the global population has increased by 150 per cent, but at the same time the real price of food commodities has declined 75 per cent... average daily food supplies per person in developing countries increased by 38 per cent."

Yet on BBC's Newsnight the same day as Sachs' lecture, the Secretary of State for the Environment, David Miliband, declared that it was impossible for the rest of humanity to aspire to the level of consumption that we currently enjoy: "If the world were to have the same living standards as we have in the UK, then we'd need three planets to support us." In the studio the environment spokesmen of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats nodded sagely.

Possibly Jeffrey Sachs and David Miliband are right that the planet is doomed if we carry on as we are. Yet for 200 years since Thomas Malthus wrote his Essay on the Principle of Population, economists and politicians have continued to make fools of themselves by writing books and delivering lectures prophesying famines and planetary apocalypse, unless we take their advice. It's one way to make a living, I suppose.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


17 April, 2007

Global warming roundup

Post below recycled from Gateway Pundit -- which see for links. The post lists some recent Warmist "protests" and the comments made by the Warmist organizers. For warmists, the reality of a prolonged winter is irrelevant

Carbondale, Illinois:

Our event was well organized and ready to go. Terribly cold, rainy weather greatly hindered the turnout. Three live bands played under the pavilion, few folks turned out. But we organizers and volunteers enjoyed the experience!

Saint Paul, MN:

The curious April snow had melted just in time for everyone to enjoy this beautiful spring day, no matter what part of the Capitol lawn you happened to be on.

Osceoal, MO:

These people braved the chilling weather to ask Congress to step it up as the gathered on a bluff top overlooking the place where the Sac River, flowing out of the Ozark highlands, joins the Osage river- coming through wetlands of the Osage plains in eastern Kansas.

Pittsburgh, PA:

It was amazing! About 200 people showed up in chilly (mid-30s) weather to hear speakers including our local city councilman, to write letters to legislators, to listen to music from the band Life in Balance (who added the call to "Step it UP!" to their song lyrics).

Hanover, NH:

Our event was held outside, on a chilly day, at the new Richmond Middle School with many energy saving features.

Kansas City, MO:

We had to move the event to an indoor location because of potential snow and rain during the time of the event. About 500 people attended the event at Community Christian Church.

Evansville, IN:

Despite the cold weather lots of people came out and there were several great speakers including; Biologist, Sam LaBudde.

HoughtonHancock, MI:

We then ended our Pinwheel Parade at the Portage Lake District Library, which, ironically, is situated right on the snowmobile path along the canal through Houghton.

And, of course, the headline in Grand Rapids, MI:

"Snow won't dampen global-warming rallies"

Dress warm.

Green colonialists

THE Tory party donor and environmental philanthropist Johan Eliasch has been accused of "green colonialism" after allegedly consigning 1,000 people to poverty in his attempts to preserve the Amazon jungle. The allegations against Eliasch, who last week was touring South America with his friend the Duke of York, come from the inhabitants of a region of the Brazilian rainforest the size of Greater London.

In 2005 the Swedish-born tycoon, who runs the Head sports goods empire, spent a reported 13.7 million pounds of his estimated 361m fortune buying 400,000 acres - about 625 square miles - of jungle from an American-owned timber company with the aim of protecting it from loggers. Eliasch has described the move as "my little bit towards saving the world". As a result of the deal, a lumber mill that employed as many as 1,000 people closed in the town of Itacoatiara in northwest Brazil, increasing hardship in an already economically depressed region.

The closure has pitched Eliasch into a debate about how rich countries can help preserve tropical rainforests while considering the livelihoods of people who live and work in them. Some local environmentalists have accused him of dabbling in "green colonialism". "What he is doing is valid in terms of preservation but you cannot let people go hungry," said Lelio Moreira, who works at the local radio station, Panorama Itacoatiara. "There has to be some kind of help for locals hurt by this. Now, with the lack of jobs, violence is increasing and because fathers cannot afford to look after their families we also have a growing problem with child prostitution."

Joao Manuel Figueira, a municipal employee, added: "The impact of the plant's closure has been harsh. The local shops are feeling the knock-on effects with a drop in sales. We know the environment is important and deforestation is a problem. But knocking all the forest down is one thing. Taking out mature wood is another." Moreira said most residents had no idea who Eliasch was or what his plans were for his purchase. But Eliasch said relations with local government and the wider population since he bought into the region had been "generally positive". He said all the workers he laid off were fully compensated and he planned to re-hire many of them as guards to protect his new wilderness sanctuary. But he admitted that for him, preserving the jungle was "the only option" and took priority over those living there. "The rainforest is more important to me at the moment," said Eliasch, who is the Tories' deputy treasurer. He has also lent the party 2.6m.

He rejected arguments that first world countries, which chopped down their own forests in the drive for industrialisation, had no right to try to prevent Brazilians doing the same. "I'd like to say a move like my purchase is more learning from our mistakes," he said. "People have made mistakes in the western world and [I am] trying to prevent it happening elsewhere."

Eliasch is not the only one caught up in the paradox that by trying to save the rainforest he is harming the people who earn their living there. The Brazilian government says it is living up to its commitments to preserve the forest and points to a steep drop in the rate of deforestation since a peak in 2002. But that effort has hit the economy of many jungle towns hard. Last year Eliasch came up with the idea of buying the whole rainforest to preserve it. The result was a diplomatic incident between Brazil and Britain when the idea was taken up by David Miliband, the environment secretary, who suggested setting up an international trust as the best way to preserve the Amazon



Of Wooden Fuel Cell Cars...

I had no idea that people still built cars out of wood, but apparently Morgan in the UK does. It announced in Geneva that it would offer a hydrogen-fueled, zero-emission version that resembles the Aero 8, which features a wooden-framed body. To quote the Pocket-Lint web site, "It will be a very lightweight car with a fuel cell hybrid powerplant, which will give it a 200-mile range."

On reflection, the British have a heritage of doing some pretty remarkable things with wood, including one of my favorite aircraft of World War II, the all-plywood DeHavilland Mosquito, the fastest fighter-bomber of the war. So, it will be interesting to see how such a seemingly low-tech material performs in concert with such a high-tech propulsion system.

...And Germany Submarines

British wooden cars aren't the only thing being powered by a fuel cell; German submarines are as well. Siemens, which recently bought Ballard's electric drive system division, is equipping two more U-212A class submarines with its Air Independent Power Supply, which includes "a Permasyn Motor (permanently excited synchronous propulsion motor), PEM (Polymer Electrolyte Membrane) Fuel Cells as the main part of the Air Independent Power Supply, DC- switchgears and the platform management system." The U-212A submarines are describe thus by

The U212-class submarines have been designed to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells instead of traditional atmosphere-dependent propulsion systems. The new submarines will be quietest than previous German models and will be able to stay submerged for longer periods of time. The fuel cells will provide to conventional submarines some features only available for nuclear-powered vessels.

The fuel cell propulsion system based on hydrogen allows the boat to cruise submerged for weeks, typically a diesel-powered submarine can remain submerged for only two days. Fuel Cells generates no noise and no exhaust heat. The Portuguese and Greek Navies have ordered the German hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system for three of their U209-class submarines on order or already in service.

The U212-class is an evolution of proven U209 submarines. The new submarine will be armed with the DM2A4 torpedo and will perform shallow water and open sea missions. It will feature six 533mm torpedo tubes and 12 torpedoes or 24 mines.


Australia: Public broadcaster scaremongering on the environment

NEWSFLASH: Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he can't guarantee the Great Barrier Reef will still be here in 20 years. That's how our ABC breathlessly reported Turnbull's response to the recycled report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For the record, Turnbull also refuses to guarantee the world will not be under attack from an intergalactic force or threatened by any asteroids streaking toward it in 2027. But your ABC hasn't got around to reporting his position on those eventualities because intergalactic forces and asteroid attacks are not part of its agenda. Yet.

If our ABC has found anyone to guarantee the security of the Great Barrier Reef, the height of Mt Everest or the snows of Kilamanjaro in 2027, it isn't saying. But the fact that it can lead its news broadcast with a statement of such utter fatuity indicates how deeply its cultural warriors have committed themselves to flaying the Government over claims of human-induced global warming.

It is interesting to note that, when the ABC was broadcasting Turnbull's refusal to guarantee the future of the Great Barrier Reef at 9am on the Saturday of the Easter weekend, he was in Washington where he had just secured the support of the US for the Howard Government's initiative to reverse global deforestation. While the ABC was either replaying an old broadcast of Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett demanding Australia sign up to the failed Kyoto Accord, or playing a new interview with Garrett repeating his old demand that Australia sign the dead accord, Turnbull was meeting White House Council on Environmental Quality chairman James Connaughton, the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Dr Paula Dobriansky and other senior US officials, and securing their agreement to work together to face the international challenge of global warming.

And, while the ABC was replaying Garrett's new or recycled views, Turnbull had flown halfway around the world to Indonesia to talk to his Indonesian counterpart, Rachmat Witoelar, about Indonesia's support for the projects already under way aimed at preserving old growth forest and stopping illegal logging. According to Turnbull, Indonesia has even agreed to permit the use of satellites to identify areas of illegal logging, a plan critics were quick to claim would be unacceptable to Australia's northern neighbour. Those critics were wrong, but our ABC has yet to broadcast that fact.

"Indonesia is more than willing to accept any technical assistance we can provide," Turnbull said. "If the world could halve the current rate of deforestation, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by three billion tonnes a year, almost 10 times more than what would be achieved under Kyoto."

Garrett is not Kyoto's only champion. Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd is also trying to push Australia into the joke protocol and last week the European Union's Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas was given ample ABC air time to bash the Howard Government for refusing to sign up and place the Australian economy at risk. The problem for the EU is that Australia is actually on track to meet its Kyoto target but, as Prime Minister John Howard noted last week, at least 12 of the EU's 15 member nations, including Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy, are unlikely to meet their 2012 Kyoto commitments.

What Al Gore, the EU, the UN, Garrett and Rudd all choose to ignore is the science which shows that the Earth's climate has always been variable and that climate change can be attributed to many things but that among the least likely to have had any influence is human activity. Professor Ian Plimer of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Adelaide says the current theory of human-induced global warming is not in accord with history, archaeology, geology or astronomy and must be rejected. Further, he says, the current promotion of this theory as science is fraudulent and the current alarmism on climate change is not science....

While some adults believe they will feel better if they publicly confess to leaving a light on at night and while The Sydney Morning Herald believes we should take a lead from frightened primary school students, most rational people want to understand the science behind the wild claims being made for climate change.

To date, the debate has been led by those seeking political and economic gain through fear. Professor Plimer's view is unpopular because it absolves humans from blame and robs the self-flagellating publicity-seekers of their moment in the spotlight. It does not however mean that his views are not as deserving of equal consideration in this debate. As for Turnbull and Garrett, one is out there walking the walk and the other is just talking through his very necessary hat.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


16 April, 2007

Experts' dim view of green light bulb

Hilarious gap found in Greenie reasoning

THE cover story of this month's edition of Silicon Chip magazine is a comprehensive bagging of the Federal Government's plan to replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescents (CFLs).

As publisher Leo Simpson points out, most domestic lighting use is at night, which means it is "merely using the 'spinning reserve' of our base-loaded power stations. "You could switch all the lights off ... and the base-load power stations would still be spinning away, using just as much coal," he says.

In a six-page analysis, Silicon Chip , the bible for electrical engineers, identifies drawbacks such as the fact that a CFL light bulb "takes about 10 to 15 minutes to achieve full brilliance"; doesn't last long when used for frequent short periods; can't be used with a dimmer switch; and can cause electrical and infra-red interference to the point where "CFLs can completely obliterate [radio] reception in rural areas" - and if you have a "CFL in the same room as your TV or hi-fi system, the infra-red remote control may not work at all". Heed the geeks.


Global warming, global stifling

The planet has a problem caused by too much hot air -- comment by logician Gary Jason

The debate about global warming has reached a crescendo, and has acquired a deeply unsettling tone. We are witnessing a veritable rush to judgment - a rush that has now been accelerated by a United Nations report that accepts and supports the global warming theory. If there was ever a time for skepticism, it is now. The time has come for people who have reasonable doubts to speak up and offer the reasons for their doubts. In this article I will try to clarify what parts of global warming science give cause for doubt. I will also state the features of the global warming debate that are troublesome to me - and should be troublesome to you.

I'll start by making some distinctions. The first distinction is between the narrow theory of anthropic global warming (hereafter, the "Narrow Theory") and the grand metanarrative of global warming (hereafter, the "Grand Theory"). The Narrow Theory lies exclusively in the domain of climate science, and holds simply that:

* The earth's climate is warming significantly.
* This warming is exacerbated by the generation of CO2 and other anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
* This warming threatens to induce widescale ecological changes.

The Grand Theory - as presented on television and in several recent movies - is vastly more than a theory of climate science. It is a multiple-domain metanarrative or integrated worldview, including both moral assumptions and policy prescriptions. In essence, it posits twelve theses:

* The world is warming dramatically.
* This warming is unlike any other warming or cooling in the history of the planet.
* The warming is caused primarily by humans' burning of fossil fuels.
* If we keep burning fossil fuels at the present rate, warming will accelerate and increase without end.
* The result of warming will be a huge increase in the number of ecological and meteorological disasters, which will be of biblical proportions.
* These disasters will not be counterbalanced by any favorable effects of warming.
* Both warming and disaster will occur with such rapidity that mankind will be unable to adjust.
* The process can be reversed or controlled by drastically curtailing the use of fossil fuels.
* The only way to do this is by drastically curtailing the use of fossil fuels.
* The best plan is to slash the use of fossil fuels in the United States and other countries of the developed world, while leaving the less-developed world (including Brazil, China, and India) alone.
* Use of fossil fuel can best be curtailed by the exploitation of wind and solar power, and by massive "conservation."
* Whatever this will cost, directly and indirectly (and estimates range from trillions of dollars to nothing at all), will be less that the costs of the damage wrought by continued warming.

This Grand Theory is a wide ranging worldview, of which the Narrow Theory is but a minor part. It includes theses that are well beyond the domain of climate science, including theses derived, at least ostensibly, from history, geology, economics, agricultural science, power-plant engineering, and geopolitics, then given a moral cast, i.e., imbued with moral judgments. For example, Theses 6, 10, 11, and 12 are all either completely or in great part economic claims, having little if anything to do with climate science. To cite a specific example, Thesis 10 is a claim that can only be proven by looking at detailed, empirically based projections of emissions figures from industries in developed countries compared to those in the third world, and factoring in projections of efficiency and productivity. Another example: Thesis 11 is a sweeping claim about the economics of power generation, and can only be proven by looking at the economics of all known methods of generating power, including every feasible alteration in those technologies.

Most of the theses in the Grand Theory are packed with morally charged concepts. If an epidemiologist says, "The chance of bird flu becoming epidemic is growing significantly," she is making a narrowly scientific statement. If she says, "Bird flu is about to explode catastrophically! We have to stop it now!", she is going beyond science to make a moral and a policy judgment. That isn't a problem if the economics and morality are obvious - if, say, the cost of inoculation is trivial compared to the costs associated with a disease that has a mortality rate of nearly 50%. But when the economics is complex (with costs and benefits hard to measure, the range of options large, and the chances and scale of an anticipated event hard to estimate), or when the moral case is unclear (say, when the moral values being balanced are incommensurable with one another), such value-laden language is dangerous.

Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, an eminent specialist who is favorable to the Narrow Theory, made this point well in a recent interview with the BBC. He said, "Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists, too, who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror, and disaster with the careful hedging which surrounds science's predictions? . . . To state that climate change will be 'catastrophic' hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions which do not emerge from empirical or theoretical science."

The second distinction I want to make is between general agreement, at least among the scientists in a given field, and a complete convergence of opinion. When the majority of scientists agree that a theory in their domain is true, there is general agreement. But general agreement means that a significant minority of scientists still dissents. When a theory has survived repeated tests (i.e., has predicted with great accuracy phenomena that are then confirmed empirically) and has been tremendously fruitful in guiding research, then virtually all scientists active in its domain agree, and there is complete convergence. Ask physicists whether quantum theory is true, and 99.99% will say it is. You would see the same virtual unanimity if you asked biologists whether all life on this planet evolved from one original form.

There is general agreement about the Narrow Theory - though there are varying degrees of this agreement, depending on the particular thesis being considered. The summary of the UN study just released (the Fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or "IPCC") reports that its panel is over 90% certain that the "observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is . . . due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." This means that a significant minority of the rele-vant scientists continues to doubt part or all of the Narrow Theory - perhaps a larger minority than is apparent, since the summary is often more "confident" than the actual study, and even more since the report's contributors were selected by politicians whose desire for scientific objectivity may not have been paramount. And although the highest percentage agrees that temperatures have risen (Thesis 1), there are prominent dissenters. Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer questions Thesis 1. So do eminent climatologist Timothy Ball, and Neil Frank, former director of the National Hurricane Center. Climatologist William Gray of Colorado State University actually predicts global cooling - which, remember, was the dominant climatological prediction of the 1970s.

Fewer scientists agree that the rise was caused by human activity (Thesis 2), or that the potential ecological damage will include such threats as increased storm activity (often cited by supporters of Thesis 3). Much of the disagreement about Thesis 2 surrounds the question of whether the global warming posited by Thesis 1 is primarily or only partially caused by human fossil-fuel use. After all, methane is a greenhouse gas, and is emitted by cattle in large quantities, so it is caused by man, but not by the burning of fossil fuel. Then again, volcanoes and other natural processes create copious amounts of CO2.

Some scientists, such as Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, believe that the rise is caused by a rise in solar radiation, a cyclical pattern that they see going far back in geologic history. This explanation has the advantage of providing a reason for periods of global warming (and cooling) before human existence. Other climatologists point out that the geological record shows that some past rises in CO2 were preceded by temperature rises, and thus could not have been causes of those temperature increases. There must have been a different cause (such as increased solar radiation). Another recent theory is that temperature fluctuations may be caused by increased cloud formation resulting from increased cosmic radiation. And prominent Narrow Theory critic Richard Lindzen (a meteorologist at MIT) disputes whether rising temperatures will increase storm activity.

I am not a climate scientist. I do not know if complete convergence among climate scientists will ever occur, or if it does, whether it will be convergence on all three theses, or fewer. But I don't have to be a climate scientist to see that there is at present nothing approaching complete convergence on the Narrow Theory.

Turn to the Grand Theory, and things get very curious. While there seems to be a preponderance (though nowhere near a complete convergence) of opinion on the Narrow Theory, there isn't even anything approaching a consensus on the Grand Theory. For instance, an NREP (National Registry of Environmental Professionals) survey of licensed environmental specialists shows that only 66% consider the rate of global warming a serious problem facing the planet (with roughly the same percentage believing that the U.S. should do more to address the issue), and that only 39% consider regulation of carbon emissions as the most important tool in addressing global warming.

Nevertheless, it appears that many climatologists give evidence for the Narrow Theory - usually by showing that the carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere has a human stamp - but then essentially assume that all the other theses of the Grand Theory follow automatically.

This doesn't surprise me, because, again, most of the other theses of the Grand Theory are economic or even moral, hence not in the climatologists' domain of expertise. Such things frequently happen with multi-domain metanarratives. Because the experts in one field (say, atmospheric physics) don't know much about another field (say, agricultural economics), they can't agree or disagree with the experts in that field in any meaningful way. This is why these metanarratives are more often put forward by advocacy groups than by groups of scientists reasoning as scientists.

It is easy to see why certain advocacy groups oppose the Grand Theory. Most obviously, opposition is clearly in the self-interest of the fossil fuel industries. But who pushes the theory? Five kinds of people reflexively support it:

The first, and some of the most exuberant, are people with a religious faith that dovetails with the Theory. I have in mind the pagan, neo-Romantic Greens who worship Mother Earth, and believe that She is being ravished by Corrupt Mankind. These folks have been around since at least Rousseau. They are especially common among baby boomers, many of whom were hippies before being compelled by economic reality to acquire a job, and are still in touch with their tree-hugging inner selves. The idea of sinful industrial man being punished for the offense of developing the planet for such filthy purposes as survival excites these folks more than all the Viagra in Vegas. Their political force is a phalanx of well-funded environmental organizations: Greenpeace, the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, etc.

The second sort of people who reflexively support the Grand Theory are the open anticapitalists (socialists, Marxists, anarchists, and assorted other aging revolutionaries manqu‚s, pining for the Great Communist Heaven that has heretofore eluded them). They hate capitalism generally, but American industry in particular. American prosperity sticks in their craw. It shows what free enterprise can do. These people love the Kyoto Accord precisely because it proposes to channel industry into China and Brazil, while throwing massive numbers of Americans out of work. If implemented, it would allow them to exclaim, "Can't you see, worker? Can't you see how the evil multinational corporations deliberately send your jobs abroad?" And, as believers in equalizing world incomes, they would have the pleasure of equalizing America downward.

The third group advocating the Grand Theory consists of global redistributionist, Wilsonian liberals and one-world bureaucrats. These people also want to end global income inequality, even if ending it comes at the price of ending global prosperity. It galls them to see America so rich and third-world countries so poor, although they are congenitally unable to see that the blame lies with the bad governments that have afflicted the third world. To admit that would be to "blame the victim."

The fourth group enamored of the Grand Theory is that of the modern statist liberals. Modern liberals love the extensive control of the economy that taxation and regulation bring them. The pork that statist liberals derive from the Grand Theory is not trivial. The yearly spending on "alternative energy" alone is $14 billion, and statist politicians get to hand it out. More, vastly more, can be expected from fuller applications of the Theory.

The fifth group of reflexive advocates is, of course, the individuals and corporations who stand to gain financially from extensive regulation of the energy industries. Groups 4 and 5 often work together. For example, prominent advocates of the "cap and trade" proposal (a proposal to set emission targets, and allow those companies who beat the targets to sell their "savings credits" to companies which fail to meet their targets) are the large brokerage firms Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, who are happy to testify in favor of the Grand Theory in hearings run by Democratic power players such as Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer. Probably the main player here is USCAP - the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which includes energy companies, brokerage firms, and manu-facturers, as well as some big environmentalist organizations (Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense, and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change). All this is classic rent-seeking.

Add to group five the usual gathering of weasels, to wit, parasitic trial lawyers who will rip off uncountable billions by suing productive enterprises because of CO2 emissions. Naturally, California has jumped into the lead here. State Attorney General Jerry Brown (yes, Governor Moonbeam, redivivus) is aggressively pursuing a federal lawsuit directed at the major auto makers, seeking billions of dollars in compensation because cars allegedly constitute a "nuisance" by contributing to global warming. You might well ask why Moonbeam didn't start by suing the utilities firms (which, after all, use fossil fuels to run their power plants). But no: California suffered power shortages a few years back, and the voters tossed out a recently reelected governor because they held him to blame. The attorney general knows this. Also, he has a long-standing hatred of private cars; during his own eight years as governor, he notoriously refused to build any freeways. State by state, industry by industry, such junk lawsuits will proliferate........

Much more here

Live Earth: change the record

The anti-development message of the Al Gore-inspired gig planned for July is nothing to sing and dance about

How do we stop this global disaster? No, not climate change, stoopid - Live Earth! This 24-hour smugfest of seven concerts on six different continents will bring together 150 acts including Madonna, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Kanye West, the Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow...really, lots and lots of pop stars, with probably a squillion more guest appearances to be announced.

If you weren't feeling patronised enough by Live 8, the freebie gig in 2005 that called on G8 politicians to cancel Third World debt (which they were planning to do anyway), Live Earth might really tip you over the edge. It will consist of a rolling series of concerts in China, Australia, South Africa, the UK, Brazil, Japan and the USA on 7 July this year. The aim of the concerts is to raise lots of money so that the concert organisers (former US vice-president Al Gore and Live 8 producer Kevin Wall) can carry on bemoaning what human beings are doing to the planet through a new foundation called Save Our Selves (SOS).

What's SOS all about? `Save Our Selves is designed to trigger a mass-scale movement to combat our climate crisis. Our climate crisis affects everyone, everywhere. That's who SOS is aimed at. The magnitude of the climate crisis makes it so that only a global response can begin to address it. SOS asks all people to Save Our Selves because only we can. SOS is more than a distress call. The most important part is how people respond. As we move forward, SOS will not only issue the call, but will provide the solutions individuals, corporations, governments and the world can use in answering it.'

Decide for yourself whether the dominant tone is bombastic or melodramatic. But ticket-buyers for Live Earth might want to pause to think about their feelings at becoming a stage army for Gore and Wall's international consultancy service. Once SOS can say that `two billion people' watched its concerts and had their `awareness' raised, it can demand that politicians listen to its policy prescriptions. Why worry about winning elections when you can just organise a gig? Right, Al?

One criticism of the concerts is that they're likely to generate as much carbon dioxide as they save. After all, there will be 150 acts with electrically-powered equipment and chemically-powered entourages. They won't be travelling to their venues by bicycle, that's for sure. The organisers have promised to offset all the performers' flights and use carbon-neutral energy sources. (Ironically, when I debated with event spokesman Yusuf Robb on Irish radio station Newstalk this morning, he suggested Irish music fans should go to the London gig on a ferry or `take a Ryanair flight'. He clearly doesn't realise how much the Irish airline is hated by green campaigners on this side of the pond.)

Even if the concerts themselves are carbon-neutral, the organisers and performers quite clearly have lifestyles that are at odds with the message they are preaching to the rest of us. They own big cars, private jets, huge homes and enjoy the best of everything. Yet their advice to everyone else is that we must tighten our belts, rein in our ambitions, make do and mend etc, if we ever hope to Save Our Selves and the planet.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or a climate scientist for that matter) to work out that getting a bit of global exposure won't do any of these acts any harm. The newer performers will be hoping to use Live Earth as a platform to break through outside of their own countries. Some of the older performers need all the credibility they can get. For the more superannuated acts involved - for whom Madonna is rapidly becoming the role model - it won't be Save Our Selves so much as Save Our Sales.

Climate change is certainly the cause du jour for celebrities who want to prove that they aren't shallow prima donnas. Witness this month's Vanity Fair magazine, which features Leonardo Di Caprio, alongside Berlin Zoo's polar bear superstar, Knut, as an `eco-hero'. We can look forward to his own film about global warming, The 11th Hour, which will include such tub-thumping as this: `So, we find ourselves on the brink. It's clear humans have had a devastating impact on our planet's ecological web of life. Because we've waited, because we've turned our backs on nature's warning signs, and because our political and corporate leaders have consistently ignored the overwhelming scientific evidence, the challenges we face are that much more difficult. We are in the environmental age whether we like it or not.'

This is at least a bit more honest than Save Our Selves. SOS presents its arguments as being in the interests of people everywhere. But you know that, underneath, SOS has a fairly low opinion of humanity. Di Caprio just comes right out and says it: we must repent for our sins against nature. Leo is a wealthy man whose main claim to fame is pretending to be other people and living a glamorous lifestyle off his superstar salary. Environmentalism is the product of his nagging guilt about that fact.

And he's not alone, as James Heartfield has argued on spiked: `[O]ne could state as a law of politics that the relationship between green thinking and increasing consumption is not contradictory, but complementary. The greater role that consumption plays in our lives, the more we are predisposed to worrying about the planet.. As sure as night follows day, the very people that are most preoccupied with the environment will increase their consumption from one year to the next.'

The real problem with Live Earth, with Vanity Fair and with every other `green special' of one sort or another is that they send out a message which is not simply misplaced but downright reactionary. When human beings were part of `our planet's ecological web of life' our lives were nasty, brutish and short. Only by steadily separating ourselves from that web of life and manipulating it in a host of ways for our own ends have some people been able to enjoy long and relatively comfortable lives.

The pressing political question of our age should be about how we can both improve our lives still further and ensure that everyone in the world enjoys the benefits. The message of SOS seems to be that we've gone too far and we need to call a halt to development. That's nothing to sing and dance about.


Perfect storm for global warming fight

Weather used to be the ultimate safe topic for conversation. That was before climate change came along. Indeed, we've witnessed a sudden shift in Washington's conventional wisdom on this topic. Virtually every major player on and off Capitol Hill has concluded that the global-warming train is leaving the station, and no one dares to be left behind. Comprehensive legislation to mandate reductions in CO2 emissions from power plants, autos, factories, farms and office buildings has line-jumped the congressional agenda.

The perfect storm started last November when Democrats regained control of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly created the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and named as chairman her close ally and rabid environmentalist, Rep. Ed Markey (D.-Mass.). Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.), another ardent environmentalist, assumed chairmanship of the Senate Environment Committee.

The storm gathered strength in January when California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to a mandatory 25% reduction in statewide CO2 emissions from by 2020 and an even more ambitious goal -- reducing emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

Category Five status arrived in early February with the release of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report. Media outlets labeled it "dire" and speculated openly about a "a 21-foot increase in sea level, forcing the relocation of more than 300 million people living in low-lying areas worldwide."

Actually, as my Heritage colleague Ben Lieberman points out, the study "retreated on a number of important assertions," including a downward revision in future sea-level estimates and hedges considerably on whether global warming contributes to powerful hurricanes like Katrina. Nonetheless, industry groups sought shelter -- and purchased tickets on the global-warming train:

* On the day the UN report emerged, Exxon Mobil conceded "it is prudent to develop and implement strategies that address the risks [of global warming]," including "putting policies in place that start us on a path to reduce emissions."

* The utility industry quickly followed. The Edison Electric Institute and the Electric Power Supply Association braced "for expected federal mandates" and announced support for federal caps on CO2 emissions.

* The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of CEOs from 10 blue-chip companies and four environmental organizations, called for a 10% to 30% reduction in worldwide atmospheric concentrations of CO2 within 15 years, and up to 80% by 2050.

* Meanwhile, other global-warming skeptics, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, find themselves sidelined by splits among their members.

Conspiracy theorists believe those splits aren't accidental and point to efforts by left-leaning foundations such as the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, which has convinced 42 large corporations -- including Intel, Alcoa, Georgia-Pacific, Sunoco, Lockheed Martin, Weyerhaeuser and Toyota -- to embrace ambitious global-warming legislation. Pew's president, Eileen Claussen, has even boasted about this divide-and-conquer strategy: "The whole objective was to split the industry so you could get people who were progressive to begin to do something" to advance global-warming legislation.

But the companies climbing aboard are hardly motivated by altruism. "We also believe," Pew's website states, "that companies taking early action on climate strategies and policy will gain sustained competitive advantage over their peers."

Indeed, some of these companies want to force their competitors to shoulder costs they have already borne. "Since 1991," a DuPont executive recently told Congress, "we've reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 72% globally and avoided $3 billion of energy costs." Having incurred these costs, DuPont now wants its competitors "across the entire U.S. economy" to do likewise. But, it adds, any global-warming legislation must recognize "voluntary actions taken to reduce emissions," thereby exempting DuPont from its economic consequences. Similarly, a BP executive told Congress that "from a business point of view, [this] is the right direction to take."

Sen. Kit Bond (R.-Mo.) has offered us a much-needed historical lesson -- namely, that Enron once trolled these waters. "An internal Enron memo," The Washington Post reported in 2002, "said the Kyoto agreement, if implemented, would do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative" and would be "good for Enron stock."

To Bond, Enron's self-interested advocacy of a global-warming agreement "shows how companies of all stripes sometimes are willing to work for environmental goals because it fits their business model, pads their bottom line" and "maybe or maybe not" furthers noble environmental ends. "That's why," he concluded, "I'm not worried . about what certain companies think about carbon caps," but rather how these companies "would profit off of the pain of other industries and consumers . who are captive to . other sources of energy."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


15 April, 2007

The media and global warming

In a campaign without peacetime precedent, the media-entertainment-environmental complex is warning about global warming. Never, other than during the two world wars, has there been such a concerted effort by opinion-forming institutions to indoctrinate Americans, 83 percent of whom now call global warming a ``serious problem.'' Indoctrination is supposed to be a predicate for action commensurate with professions of seriousness.

For example, Democrats could demand that the president send the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate so they can embrace it. In 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 in opposition to any agreement which would, like the protocol, require significant reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions in America and some other developed nations but would involve no ``specific scheduled commitments'' for 129 ``developing'' countries, including the second, fourth, 10th, 11th, 13th and 15th largest economies (China, India, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico and Indonesia). Forty-two of the senators serving in 1997 are gone. Let's find out if the new senators disagree with the 1997 vote.

Do they also disagree with Bjorn Lomborg, author of ``The Skeptical Environmentalist''? He says: Compliance with Kyoto would reduce global warming by an amount too small to measure. But the cost of compliance just to the United States would be higher than the cost of providing the entire world with clean drinking water and sanitation, which would prevent 2 million deaths (from diseases like infant diarrhea) a year and prevent half a billion people from becoming seriously ill each year.

Nature designed us as carnivores, but what does nature know about nature? Meat has been designated a menace. Among the 51 exhortations in Time magazine's ``global warming survival guide'' (April 9), No. 22 says a BMW is less responsible than a Big Mac for ``climate change,'' that conveniently imprecise name for our peril. This is because the world meat industry produces 18 percent of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions, more than transportation produces. Nitrous oxide in manure (warming effect: 296 times greater than that of carbon) and methane from animal flatulence (23 times greater) mean that ``a 16 ounce T-bone is like a Hummer on a plate.''

Ben & Jerry's ice cream might be even more sinister: A gallon of it requires electricity guzzling refrigeration, and four gallons of milk produced by cows that simultaneously produce eight gallons of manure and flatulence with eight gallons of methane. The cows do this while consuming lots of grain and hay, which are cultivated by using tractor fuel, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides, and transported by fuel-consuming trains and trucks. Newsweek says most food travels at least 1,200 miles to get to Americans' plates, so buying local food will save fuel. Do not order halibut in Omaha.

Speaking of Hummers, perhaps it is environmentally responsible to buy one and squash a Prius with it. The Prius hybrid is, of course, fuel-efficient. There are, however, environmental costs to mining and smelting (in Canada) 1,000 tons a year of zinc for the battery-powered second motor, and the shipping of the zinc 10,000 miles -- trailing a cloud of carbon -- to Wales for refining and then to China for turning it into the component that is then sent to a battery factory in Japan.

Opinions differ as to whether acid rain from the Canadian mining and smelting operation is killing vegetation that once absorbed carbon dioxide. But a report from CNW Marketing Research (``Dust to Dust: The Energy Cost of New Vehicles from Concept to Disposal'') concludes that in ``dollars per lifetime mile,'' a Prius (expected life: 109,000 miles) costs $3.25, compared to $1.95 for a Hummer H3 (expected life: 207,000 miles).

The CNW report states that a hybrid makes economic and environmental sense for a purchaser living in the Los Angeles basin, where fuel costs are high and smog is worrisome. But environmental costs of the hybrid are exported from the basin. We are urged to ``think globally and act locally,'' as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has done with proposals to reduce California's carbon dioxide emissions 25 percent by 2020. If California improbably achieves this, at a cost not yet computed, it will have reduced global greenhouse-gas emissions 0.3 percent. The question is:

Suppose the costs over a decade of trying to achieve a local goal are significant. And suppose the positive impact on the globe's temperature is insignificant -- and much less than, say, the negative impact of one year's increase in the number of vehicles in one country (e.g., India). If so, are people who recommend such things thinking globally but not clearly?


Greenie light-bulb madness: Mercury phobia versus CO2 phobia

There's lots of mercury in the environment naturally. Only prolonged high exposure is dangerous. I am in good health at 63 and I have had mercury amalgam fillings in my teeth since childhood. You can guess how panicked I am

On March 13, Brandy Bridges was installing some of the two dozen CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs she had purchased in an attempt to save money on her energy bill. One month later, though, Bridges is paying much more than she had ever expected to. On that Tuesday, Bridges was installing one of the spiral-shaped light bulbs in her 7-year-old daughter's bedroom. Suddenly, the bulb plummeted to the floor, breaking on the shag carpet.

Bridges, who was wary of the dangers of cleaning up a fluorescent bulb, called The Home Depot where she purchased them. She was told that the bulbs had mercury in them and that she should not vacuum the area where the bulb had broken. Bridges was directed to call the Poison Control hotline. Poison Control directed her to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Environmental Protection. Upon reaching the DEP the next day, the agency offered to send a specialist out to Bridges' house to test the air levels. The specialist arrived soon after the phone conversation and began testing the downstairs, where he found safe levels of mercury - below the state's limit of 300 ng/m3 (nanograms per cubic meter). In the daughter's bedroom, the levels remained well below the 300 mark, except for near the carpet where the bulb broke. There the mercury levels spiked to 1,939 ng/m3. On a bag of toys that bulb fragments had landed on, the levels of mercury were 556 ng/m3.

Bridges was told by the specialist not to clean up the bulb and mercury powder by herself. He recommended the Clean Harbors Environmental Services branch in Hampden. Clean Harbors gave Bridges a low-ball estimate of $2,000, based on what she described, to clean up the room properly. The work entailed removing anything with levels greater than 300 ng/m3, including the carpeting. One month later, Bridges' daughter's bedroom remains sealed off with plastic "to avoid any dust blowing around" and to keep the family's pets from going in and out of the room. Her daughter, Shayley, has to sleep downstairs in a full house that already consists of Bridges' fianc‚, her 71-year-old mother and her handicapped brother.

Today, Bridges is "gathering finances" to pay the $2,000 for the cleaning herself. That won't cover the cost for new carpeting and other items that will have to be replaced. Her insurance company said it wouldn't cover the costs because mercury is considered a pollutant, like oil.

One month later, Bridges is still searching for answers. She has contacted staff members from the offices of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to tell them about her situation but has received no response. She has talked with representatives from the CDC and DEP and spent roughly two to three hours a day over the past several weeks, talking on the phone and in person and contacting local papers to get the word out on what she believes are dangerous light bulbs.

And, she said, she is wondering why the DEP "publicly recanted the statement" it made to an area newspaper, in which DEP officials said it was safe to clean up the CFL bulbs using household materials. "I'm really upset. They should not change their story just because it does not fit into a good plan for these light bulbs," said Bridges. "I'm trying my best to keep my family safe and the state just keeps trying to cover it up."

Officials have said that Bridges has little to worry about and she could easily clean up the bulbs by hand. State Toxicologist Andrew Smith said it would be unlikely that a person could contract mercury poisoning from the levels of mercury found in Bridges' daughter's room. "In this situation, my understanding, was this 1,900 was the sign reading right at the spot of the floor where the bulb broke," said Smith. "While 1,900 was certainly considered an elevated reading of mercury vapor, it was a very localized level that I would not expect to result in any sign of mercury exposure." Smith said mercury is only dangerous with long-term exposure and in this case the person would have to stay right at the spot of the 1,900 reading or there would have to be elevated levels of mercury vapor in the breathing zone - about 3 feet - above the spill. Mercury also dissipates over time. The air in the bedroom at the 3-foot level measured between 31 to 49 ng/m3 of mercury, depending on the location.

Smith said a CFL light bulb breaking is not in the same category as when a mercury thermometer breaks. A typical fluorescent bulb has between 1 and 25 milligrams of mercury with the majority of smaller ones - the size of the bulb that Bridges broke - having about 5 milligrams of mercury. This is about the amount of ink on the tip of a pen. A typical mercury thermometer has between 500 and 3,000 milligrams of mercury, depending on its size. A mercury thermostat has even more. "Often you will get high levels in the breathing zone area," said Smith about a broken thermometer. "High hundreds, if not thousands."

Smith said Bridges' call was the first of its kind he's ever received. He's received plenty of calls about broken mercury thermometers, old barometers that had broken, even a very old antique Civil War mirror that had a mercury coating on the back. Many of these situations have had enough mercury to result in "fairly elevated levels in the home" and more care was needed for each situation. But Bridges' problem "is a whole different ballpark," said Smith.

Scott Cowger, director of outreach and communications for the DEP, said the DEP's Web site ( has guidelines for cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb. Cowger said it is important to ventilate the area by opening windows and not to vacuum the area of the broken bulb, which may spread the mercury. While wearing appropriate safety gloves, glasses, coveralls or old clothing and a dust mask, a person can remove the glass pieces and put them in a closed container. The dust can be cleaned up using either two pieces of stiff paper, a disposal broom and dustpan or a commercial mercury spill kit. Afterward, the area should be patted with the sticky side of tape, according to the DEP Web site.

Cowger said all the items used in cleaning up the spill should be treated as "universal waste" or a household hazardous waste that can be disposed of without hiring professionals. He said that almost every town has a program for recycling or removing universal waste, which includes computers, electronic devices and fluorescent bulbs, at the transfer station. "We encourage people not to panic if they break a lightbulb," said Cowger. Cowger said the instructions on the Web site are the same for if a mercury thermometer breaks. If a person breaks anything bigger than a thermometer, for example a thermostat, Cowger recommends calling a professional to clean up the spill.

The DEP spokesman said, though, it "isn't necessary to hire professionals at all" for a light bulb. The specialist who responded to Bridges' broken bulb was trained to respond to chemical spills and to clean up such spills to "appropriate standards."

As for the dangers of CFL bulbs, Cowger said they are more help than hindrance. For every CFL bulb a person uses, he or she is preventing mercury emissions and using less energy, said Cowger, but it is still important to educate people that these bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury. "We're doing our part and I think using fluorescent bulbs helps reduce that overall mercury burden on the environment, so people shouldn't be afraid of them, by any means," he said. "They should be proud to burn those bulbs as a way of lowering our entire mercury burden."

To Bridges, the DEP's suggestions for cleaning her rug seem "ridiculous." "I don't think it's possible to safely clean mercury out of a shag rug with duct tape and paper . I believe their first notion to have it cleaned professionally was correct. They told me to do it this way. Why would they change their stories when the papers got a hold of them?"

Maine's Public Utilities Commission is rigorously promoting the use of CFL bulbs, as a replacement to incandescent bulbs, through government incentives for both businesses and household consumers....


Dangerous Greenie crap

Croc allowed to roam popular Australian picnic spot

A 2m crocodile that has stalked a man is being allowed to roam a popular Cairns picnic spot as authorities continue their months-long debate over whether to remove it. A croc expert has warned children's lives are at risk while the crocodile continues to live at Centenary Lakes in the heart of Cairns, which is also a popular tourist attraction. Authorities have known about the croc for months but yesterday said they were still assessing whether it posed enough of a threat to be removed.

Johnstone River Crocodile Farm owner Mick Tabone said they should act immediately to trap the beast and warned it was big enough to attack a child. "Control it now. If a kid stands in the water or close to the water it could take it," Mr Tabone said. "The smaller ones (crocs) are like teenagers, they`ll have a go at anything. It's going to come to a day when someone gets killed and then they'll start talking about having a big shoot-out."

Cairns Infosite Visitor Centre owner Vince O'Flaherty told The Cairns Post he was "stalked" by the croc last Sunday after he took photos of it at the water's edge. He said the croc turned and started swimming towards him as he walked off as excited tourists rushed over.

Queensland Park and Wildlife crocodile scientist Mark Read said yesterday his team was "assessing" the croc's behaviour and size to determine whether removal was necessary. If it was deemed a risk to public safety it would be harpooned or trapped using chicken bait before being taken from the area. The Cairns Post reported in February that rangers were considering trapping the croc but were forced to wait until the weather cleared. There have been repeated sightings of crocodiles in the lake during the past two years however it is unknown whether there is more than one reptile. Mr Read said it was possible but he could not guarantee the croc was the same beast regularly spotted at Centenary Lakes since late 2004.

The lakes are thought to be provide the reptile with an abundance of food including prawns, fish and turtles. Mr Read said the man-made outdoor drains and creekbeds in Cairns provided an ideal pathway for crocs to move about the city, most probably at night when they were at their most active. Mr Read said he had "no idea" how many crocs were crawling through Cairns but thought numbers were probably low.


The temperature also rises

A bit of satire from "Intellectual Conservative"

With the issuing of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on February 2, waxing climactic about the climatic is the order of the day. The esteemed, government-funded scientists with no agenda who rendered the study inform us that man is almost certainly responsible for rising temperatures and, furthermore, that dramatic climate change is unstoppable. But, after seeing various luminaries sound the alarm, I think I can confidently say that, hell's bells, we're darn well gonna try anyway.

And it's about time. We've long known we were going to die unless we stopped spewing that plant-sustaining CO2 into the air. The thing is, though, my botanical sources tell me the plants are fearful that they'll die if they don't stop spewing that human-sustaining oxygen into the air. So our task is clear. We must beat the plants.

I'm tired of the lies. I remember when I was a wee lad in grammar school and they warned us of an upcoming ice age. That wasn't as scary as the talk about the killer bees, but why, teach, oh, why did you hide the truth about melting glaciers, rising oceans and vicious hurricanes? I suppose the ice age fiction was less unsettling to young minds. At least we could look forward to extra snow days. This is why I won't sit idly by and watch today's prevarications fobbed off on the next generation.

Can you believe I actually heard some craven, callous individuals try to rationalize away our destruction of the planet with the fancy that weather is cyclical (1500-year cycles of warming and cooling)? So thick is the propaganda that now an elaborate fiction has been woven to convince us that Al Gore, inventor of the Internet, could actually be wrong about global warming. Why, it just makes you hot under the collar. Now I'll share what I've uncovered about the machinations of malevolent manufacturers' minions.

In a tale worthy of Hollywood, some "scientists" are peddling a story about a geological interval occurring between 750 and 600 million years ago, which they fancifully call the "Cryogenian Period." They tell us that during this time the Earth was completely covered by ice and snow. Moreover, they'd have us believe there have been numerous ice ages since then, with the last major one ending about 12,000 years ago and causing glaciers to extend as far south as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Outrageously, their fiction involves the notion that these alleged events were followed by warming trends that sometimes initiated intervals in which glaciers were completely absent from our planet, all without industrialization, as if we'd believe this beautiful blue orb could experience such wrenching changes without man's meddlesome hands.

This is an insult to our intelligence. We all know that before the curse of humanity - and especially prior to industrialization - the Earth was a pacific place, where birds sang and fish swam and there was love and liberty, serenity and solidarity, and the lion lay down with the lamb.

Continuing with this weather cycle con, we're also told that between 1550 and 1920 there was a "Little Ice Age," a time that saw increased glaciation in the Alps. We can easily put the lie to this, however, for during part of this period CO2 levels were rising, yet, we are to believe that temperatures were dropping? Conversely, it's also said that there were times when CO2 levels dropped but temperature increased. It is to laugh.

Even the government is in on this charade. We know that anthropogenic glacial melt-off will cause rising sea levels that will inundate Florida and other low-lying regions, such as the Netherlands (don't you realize our inaction could result in the destruction of the prostitution and drug capital of the world?). So, right on cue, the National Park Service claims that during glacial periods Florida's sea level was as much as three-hundred feet lower than today, and during the peak of interglacial ones it was one-hundred feet higher. This, all without man's influence? Poppycock! I bet these are probably the same people who tell us 98 percent of Renaissance painters were white males and that the US wasn't founded by anti-Christian, ACLU lawyers.

Then, I found pro-plant propaganda being disgorged by the odious Center for Global Food Issues. These miscreants actually sing the praises of higher CO2 levels and say,

. . . a warmer planet has beneficial effects on food production. It results in longer growing seasons - more sunshine and rainfall - while summertime high temperatures change little. And a warmer planet means milder winters and fewer crop-killing frosts . . . Infrared satellite readings show that the Earth has been getting greener since 1982, thanks apparently to increased rainfall and CO2. Worldwide, vegetative activity generally increased by 6.17 percent between 1982 and 1999 - despite extended cloudiness due to the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo and other well-publicized environmental stresses . . . When dinosaurs walked the earth (about 70 to 130 million years ago), there was from five to ten times more CO2 in the atmosphere than today. The resulting abundant plant life allowed the huge creatures to thrive. . . . Based on nearly 800 scientific observations around the world, a doubling of CO2 from present levels would improve plant productivity on average by 32 percent across species.

And they're not alone in this subterfuge. The National Center for Policy Analysis carries water for the flora as well, echoing these sentiments and making the bold claim that a desire for greater plant yield is why botanists pump CO2 into greenhouses. Even more astoundingly, this organization states that until just recently plants might have been suffering from CO2 deprivation.

Don't you see what's going on? Those innocuous looking organisms you so lovingly nurture in their pots, as you provide water, sunlight and fertilizer, have designs on our civilization. Haven't you ever watched the Day of the Triffids? I tell you, we're locked in a battle for survival itself with the plants.

Let not your heart be troubled, though, my friends. The great teacher, the man who in a way exemplifies vegetative activity, Al Gore, is on the case with his keen intellect and sage stewardship. Why, I hear he's going to make a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth titled Presidential Aspirations in the Balance, in which he will illustrate the direness of our predicament by demonstrating how he can fry an organic egg on his head in Bangor, Maine, at sunrise. Here, too, though, crafty climatologists muddy the waters, as they claim their research shows that Earth's temperature rises an average of half a degree every time Gore gives a speech.

Of course, these ardent apologists for industrialization try to put a happy face on the CO2 molecule, but even they can't deny that the gas levels are rising. So, lo and behold, they try to sell us the line that it's the result of natural processes.

For instance, a vile propagandist named Phillip V. Brennan wrote a piece in which he mentions there is now much more geothermal activity beneath the ocean floor than scientists had suspected. Ostensibly, this process heats up the seas, causing them to release more CO2 into the atmosphere. Brennan even tries to explain away our more mercurial weather, quoting a colleague who maintains that,

. . . it is not global warming that's causing the oceans to heat, it's heated oceans that are warming the globe and setting up a scenario that includes among its consequences more and increasingly violent hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards.

Yeah, sure, next he'll tell us tsunamis are caused by underwater earthquakes. Anyway, this Brennan character has no credibility. Despite the fact we know that every scientist agrees with the anthropogenic global warming thesis, he claims that a petition was signed by,

. . . over 18,000 scientists who are totally opposed to the Kyoto Protocol, which committed the world's leading industrial nations to cut their production of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels.

Next, we hear the Earth destroyers' answer to why our polar ice caps are melting. They point out that the ice caps on Mars are probably melting as well, which is supposed to vindicate the idea that natural cycles are the cause.

But there's something they won't tell you, information I risk my life by divulging. There's actually a civilization of greedy little green industrialists on the red planet, who drive SUVs, heat their saucers with mahogany and teak, smoke fine cigars and are mean to children and old people. And the only reason this is kept secret is that free traders want our shores inundated with their cheap goods, which are brought in through Area 51.

I now ask you to compare the dubious claims of the industrial apologists with the aforementioned facts. I think it will be clear where the true sanity lies. The truth is, as Mr. Gore would say, inconvenient. We just don't want to accept that we'll have to radically alter our lifestyles; why, it's ridiculous to think we can maintain our love affair with the combustion engine. As Gore told us in Earth in the Balance, the automobile poses a most grave threat to mankind. And, no, wise guys, he didn't say that because he spent time in a car with Ted Kennedy at the wheel.

So I advise you all to follow the lead of French President Jacques Chirac, who found time between mistresses to warn us that, "We are on the historic threshold of the irreversible," as he called for a "revolution" to save mankind. Besides, there is grave concern that Hillary Clinton's personality may melt. As for me, I'm going to go out and kill a plant. Now, what will I wear? Dang, the weatherman got the forecast wrong again. . ..



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


14 April, 2007

Five biggest myths about global warming

With Al Gore getting so much mileage from his fame as both a former vice president and now Oscar winner to advance his ideological (if not personal) agenda of getting people to use less energy, it’s worth reviewing the global warming debate to clarify a few misconceptions.

First, we are not in imminent danger of massive sea-level rises. In his movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore warns of seas rising by 20 feet, and shows a dramatic image of lower Manhattan flooded by the swollen Hudson River. But this will only happen if the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets disappear overnight—a highly unlikely event. The collected scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose word climate alarmists preach as gospel when convenient, estimates only 17 inches of sea-level rise this century. Melting sufficient to flood New York would take millennia, never mind centuries. We should have plenty of time to build flood defenses.

Second, if global warming is as big a threat as claimed, it will not be averted by minor steps like changing a few light bulbs, buying carbon offsets or driving hybrid cars. Gore himself has talked of a “wrenching transformation” in our lifestyles (I won’t mention his heated pool). That’s because everyone acknowledges that the Kyoto Protocol, even when fully and successfully implemented by all its parties, will avert a barely measurable 0.07°C of warming by 2050. To stop the more extreme estimates of warming, we would need something like 30 Kyotos. President Bush pulled the United States out of the Kyoto process because of its likely cost of $100 billion to $400 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

Third, some national security hawks argue that we must reduce American use of petroleum because it funds Middle Eastern terrorists. This argument is overblown. America actually imports more oil from Africa than it does from the Middle East, which supplies only about 20 percent of our oil imports. Yet the Middle East produces oil more cheaply than anywhere else. That means that, if we were to use less gasoline, it would be the more expensive producers, like Canada and those African states, that would be the first to be hit by falling demand. If that made production in those countries uneconomic, there’s actually a chance that our supply of gas from the Middle East would rise.

Fourth, polar bears are not becoming extinct as a result of decreasing Arctic ice. We know that polar bears have survived warmer periods in the past, so there is no reason to suspect they will suffer a threat of extinction now. The chief polar bear biologist for the Canadian province of Nunavut recently wrote: “Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present.” Yet if the polar bear is listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act because of global warming, environmentalists will be able to block the new power stations and refineries the nation desperately needs.

Finally, the rest of the world is not waiting for America’s lead on climate change. Europe has attempted to put a price on carbon and has failed to reduce emissions because of its internal tensions. Measures attempted in Canada, Japan and New Zealand have also failed. China, India, and the G-77 group of developing nations have outright refused to accept any restriction on their emissions (China could overtake the U.S. as the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter later this year).

The rest of the world has two reasons for demanding American action: First, blaming America absolves them of responsibility and, second, emissions restrictions will hobble America’s economy, allowing the rest of the world to play catch-up.

For climate alarmists, these are harsh realities, inconvenient truths if you will. The global warming debate is rife with confusion and misunderstanding. As a thorough review of the implications of the science, economics and geopolitics of the debate shows, the supposed cure is worse than the disease.


It's not pretty being green

THE LATEST CRAZE in architecture, after fizzled experiments in Modernism, Post Modernism, Brutalism, Deconstructionism, and Post-Brutal-Deconstructed-Neo-Modernism, is a genuflection to environmentalism called "Green Building" or "Sustainable Architecture." For the most part, building "Green" means cloaking an intrinsically inefficient high rise building in an ecological hair shirt that makes owners feel good and tenants feel miserable.

The latest example of Green Building has risen in San Francisco, where the city by the Bay has ripped apart one of the grittier parts of its foggy utopia to construct what is surely the most ridiculous building of our still young century: the poetically-named Federal Building. A unique combination of crackpot environmentalism and elaborate ugliness, the Federal Building will finally opens its doors (or flaps, or airlocks, or orifices, or something) later this month and it will boast a number of odd design "features." For instance, the Federal Building is an office tower tall enough to disrupt the city's skyline, yet its elevators only stop on every third floor--the better to conserve energy. And after trudging up and down the stairs on a blazing summer afternoon the unfortunate tenants soak in their own sweat because the building has no air conditioning . . . again to save energy.

Who could have conceived of such a thing? Imagine a hip West Coast architect who surrounds himself with turtle necked young designers and calls his firm Morphosis and you have Thom Mayne. A profile of Mayne in the San Francisco Chronicle included this telling insight: "Mayne doesn't see his work as ugly, for starters. He also seems honestly baffled by the Bay Area notion that new buildings should mimic the architectural character of their surroundings--or, as Mayne puts it, indulge in 'the anachronistic illusion of some other time.'"

With any luck, the Mayne event in San Francisco will be so notoriously bad that it will do for enviro-fundamentalism what the Tweed Courthouse did for corrupt government . . . that is, give it unmistakable form that provokes corrective action. Until then, federal employees by the Bay will have plenty of time to contemplate the consequences of global climate change while working in their very own greenhouse


Why skepticism is sound

In the global warming debate the big issues is whether what human beings do contributes significantly to global warming. That global warming is occurring is not much in dispute, although some scientists do make a good deal of the point that there have been warming periods in the past, some of them far greater than those being recorded in our time. There has of course been steady global warming, on average, since as the earth evolved it was at certain early times covered with ice and quite uninhabitable by anything alive. Warming was a precondition to the emergence of life. But the warming never increased steadily and there have been periods of both, warming and cooling all along. Even after serious warming had commenced, there were long periods during which cold spells reemerged.

At this time, however, there is discernible warming, although the actual records-as distinct from computer projections-show only very small increases in the temperature of the earth. And in some places no warming is occurring at all. However, the history of temperature rise is not what concerns many of the skeptics about climate change. Nearly everyone agrees that there has been a rise recently. What is in dispute is (a) how much of an increase is likely to occur in the future and (b) whether human activities have had, are having, and will have a significant impact on global warming.

As to (a), the evidence is mixed and the more dire predictions are all based on several computer models combined with other computer models. And as the saying goes, "garbage in, garbage out." Here is the first place where skepticism occurs. Are those doing the modeling doing it right and can they actually be trusted to do it right? Is the science and technology on which modeling is based itself-and the scientists themselves-reliable?

Given that global warming research now consists of a mostly government subsidized industry across the globe, including the United Nations, with millions of dollars in grants going to those doing work in the field, there is understandable concern about whether those involved are stacking the deck in favor of a Doomsday scenario. It is often noted by private industry research critics that profit can corrupt research but the same is hardly ever noted in mainstream circles about government subsidized research. Furthermore, skeptics well understand that without a scare, there are fewer funds forthcoming. Government funding requires, ultimately, political support and such support relies heavily on a concerned, even frightened constituency. No Doomsday scenario, no concerned citizenry, and no allocation of funds obtained via taxation.

But there is more. In my own community the rangers put warnings out each day about fire hazards, ranging from "moderate" to "extremely high." Interestingly, the "moderate" sign is displayed even if it is pouring rain. In the ten years I have lived here, there hasn't been a fire. Yet the "extremely high" has been displayed (by my assessment) routinely roughly 70% of the year. It is a tendency of those assigned to be on the lookout to exaggerate hazards. Vigilance calls for it, as they see their jobs.

As to the human factor, here the skeptics are often concerned about what may be dubbed (following a book by that title by Jonathan R. T. Hughes) the governmental habit-if global warming were unrelated to human activity, there isn't a lot that politicians and bureaucrats could promise to do about it. Or, alternatively, if the best approach to encouraging responsible human conduct would be to leave politicians out of the picture and simply deploy various measures banning or containing what economists call negative externalities-bad side effects from normal productive processes-that, too, would leave the politicians out of the picture. And then what would they do, how would they gain the power most of them hunger for? There is, then, a strong probability that Doomsday scenarios will be projected by government officials and all those who work for them-get financial support, appointments to prestigious committees, invited to plush conferences, etc., etc.

So when one puts together the lack of solid science and technology behind the claim that global warming is imminent and that human conduct significantly contributes to the probable global warming, the attitude of skepticism is most reasonable. Or, to put it differently, how reasonable is it to trust politicians about their need for increased powers over the rest of us?


A Milestone of a Mistake: Inconvenient CAFE Truths

Demands for tighter auto fuel-economy standards are a major part of the global-warming bandwagon, and the newly unveiled Markey-Platts bill on auto fuel economy is being touted by environmentalists as a "bipartisan milestone" on the issue. Unfortunately, it's a milestone of a mistake. It continues a central tradition of proponents of this program, known as CAFE (for corporate average fuel economy)-namely, never admit that CAFE has any impact on auto safety.

In fact, CAFE is a well-established killer of a regulation, because it restricts the production of larger, more crashworthy vehicles. According to the National Academy of Sciences 2002 study of CAFE, this downsizing effect contributes to about 2,000 deaths per year-a huge toll for a program that's been in effect for three decades.

But according to the Markey-Platts bill, the NAS study "clearly states that fuel economy can be increased without negatively impacting the safety of America's cars and trucks". Actually, the study doesn't say that at all. It does suggest that new technology can allow CAFE to be increased without further downsizing, but that's quite a bit different from say CAFE will stop killing people. The NAS study does not conclude that new technology will allow a reversal of the downsizing that's already occurred under CAFE. Second, the study never addresses the more fundamental point that more stringent standards would very likely restrict the upsizing of the new-vehicle fleet. That upsizing-an increase in average vehicle size and weight-is something that many consumers will want if (or, more likely, when) gas prices stabilize or fall in the future. The more stringent the CAFE standards are, the less the auto industry will be able to respond to that demand.

In short, more stringent CAFE standards will be even more deadly than the current ones, and the NAS report is no basis for pretending otherwise.

The Markey-Platts bill is also notable for citing the work of an Oak Ridge researcher, David Greene, for the proposition that "fuel economy is not linked with increased fatalities." That may sound impressive, since David Greene was a member of the NAS committee that produced the 2002 report. But Greene, it turns out, dissented from the committee's finding that CAFE kills people.

The most notable finding of the NAS CAFE report was that CAFE was one very deadly program. It's strange that Reps. Markey and Platt try to wrap their bill in the prestige of that report, while at the same time ducking its finding that CAFE kills.

Strange, but to be expected. In all the years that CEI has been involved in this issue, we've never found a single proponent of CAFE who would admit that it kills anyone. That tradition, it appears, is still going strong. You can bet that as the push for tighter CAFE standards accelerates under the global warming debate, this dubious tradition will get even stronger.

Demands for tighter auto fuel-economy standards are a major part of the global-warming bandwagon, and the newly unveiled Markey-Platts bill on auto fuel economy is being touted by environmentalists as a "bipartisan milestone" on the issue. Unfortunately, it's a milestone of a mistake. It continues a central tradition of proponents of this program, known as CAFE (for corporate average fuel economy)-namely, never admit that CAFE has any impact on auto safety.

In fact, CAFE is a well-established killer of a regulation, because it restricts the production of larger, more crashworthy vehicles. According to the National Academy of Sciences 2002 study of CAFE, this downsizing effect contributes to about 2,000 deaths per year-a huge toll for a program that's been in effect for three decades.

But according to the Markey-Platts bill, the NAS study "clearly states that fuel economy can be increased without negatively impacting the safety of America's cars and trucks". Actually, the study doesn't say that at all. It does suggest that new technology can allow CAFE to be increased without further downsizing, but that's quite a bit different from say CAFE will stop killing people. The NAS study does not conclude that new technology will allow a reversal of the downsizing that's already occurred under CAFE. Second, the study never addresses the more fundamental point that more stringent standards would very likely restrict the upsizing of the new-vehicle fleet. That upsizing-an increase in average vehicle size and weight-is something that many consumers will want if (or, more likely, when) gas prices stabilize or fall in the future. The more stringent the CAFE standards are, the less the auto industry will be able to respond to that demand.

In short, more stringent CAFE standards will be even more deadly than the current ones, and the NAS report is no basis for pretending otherwise.

The Markey-Platts bill is also notable for citing the work of an Oak Ridge researcher, David Greene, for the proposition that "fuel economy is not linked with increased fatalities." That may sound impressive, since David Greene was a member of the NAS committee that produced the 2002 report. But Greene, it turns out, dissented from the committee's finding that CAFE kills people.

The most notable finding of the NAS CAFE report was that CAFE was one very deadly program. It's strange that Reps. Markey and Platt try to wrap their bill in the prestige of that report, while at the same time ducking its finding that CAFE kills.

Strange, but to be expected. In all the years that CEI has been involved in this issue, we've never found a single proponent of CAFE who would admit that it kills anyone. That tradition, it appears, is still going strong. You can bet that as the push for tighter CAFE standards accelerates under the global warming debate, this dubious tradition will get even stronger.


Global cooling "Light snow dusted parts of the upper Midwest yesterday, a day after a storm grounded hundreds of flights and coated roads with ice, leaving six people dead. Some areas of northern Illinois reported up to 6in (15cm) of snow on Wednesday. Another inch to 1.5in (3.8cm) of snow was expected yesterday morning. The snowfall recorded at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago was 3in (7.6cm), which surpassed the April 11, 1957 record of 2.3in (5.8cm). Milwaukee also broke a snowfall record for the date with 7in (18cm). North Dakota and South Dakota had snowfalls of a similar depth. More than 550 flights were cancelled at O’Hare airport because of poor visibility. Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport also suffered delays and cancellations"


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


13 April, 2007

Slimy Greenie language

Post below lifted from Cheat-Seeking Missiles -- which see for links

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is proposing to declare the ice floe populations of the polar bear to be threatened with extinction -- a bureaucratic process that is supposed to be based on the best available science. Since the proposed action is predicated on global warming's threat to the species, the best available science should be abundant and above reproach, right? After all, the global warming debate is over, isn't it?

Well, it appears the Fish & Wildlife Service is having trouble finding that definitive, clear science. My friend Jim forwarded to me an official comment letter submitted to the Service by a certain Julie Smithson. I don't know who Smithson is, but her email address is "," so she sounds like my kind of gal. Here's a splended excerpt from her letter:

The use of nebulous, unprovable words [in the proposed listing], including, but not limited to:

"might" (Pages 8, 49, 85, 86, 140, 147, 155, 243, 252, and 259 -- Page 243 is of special concern),

"may" [not to be confused with references to the month of May] (Pages 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 34, 38, 39, 40, 42, 44, 53, 54, 57, 58, 59, 64, 67, 68, 71, 74, 77, 80, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90 ["...

may be difficult to measure ..." and "... may initially obscure trends ..."], 91, 94, 95, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 107, 112, 114, 115, 116, 120, 121, 122, 123, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 139, 140, 142, 145, 149, 153, 155, 158, 160, 161, 162, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 173, 174, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187 [many times on this page], 188, 189, 243, 244, 246, 247, 248, 250, 251, 254, 257, and 259),

"possibly" (Pages 13, 16, 27, 33, 41, 54, 72, 80, 100, 101, 104, 105, 184, 185, 187, 246, 248, 249, and 251),

"potential" (Pages 21, 32, 34, 37, 58, 60, 68, 75, 82, 95, 97, 110, 126, 128, 129, 130, 138, 140, 141, 145, 152, 153, 156 [three times], 166 [three times], 169, 170 [three times], 175, 176, 178, 179, 183, 187, 191, 210, 236, 239, 249, 254, 257, and 259)

"potentially" (Pages 20, 24, 42, 99, 113, and 169), and "could" (Pages 13, 15, 18, 20, 27, 28, 37, 42, 52, 54, 72 [many times], 74, 76, 77, 83, 85, 86, 87 [many times], 89, 90, 91, 95, 97, 98, 99, 101, 103, 107, 110, 115, 126, 137, 138, 142, 143, 144, 147, 153, 155, 165, 168, 169 [several times], 170, 180, 181, 184, 186, 187, 189, and 251),

clearly illustrate failure to prove any need for polar bear listing.

Smithson concludes:

Unless and until such specious language is no longer used in "proposed rules," I recommend that not only the polar bear, but also all proposals for listing, be rescinded: immediately.

She's entirely right about other proposed endangered species listings, which are full not just of specious language, but of flawed studies posing under the guise of science as well. But there's a more important point to be made here: If the Fish & Wildlife Service can't make a case for the polar bear, which supposedly has been placed at risk by one of the less controversial claims of the Warmies, what of all the other claims?

They are might's, may's and could's as well. Oceans rising to flood seaside populations? "Potentially." Drought destroying global agriculture? "Possibly." Benefits from spending hundreds of billions of dollars on attempts to stop climate change? "May be difficult to Measure."

You can question free trade but not climate change

If you question whether global warming is happening, or whether human activity is causing it, or whether it's worth doing anything about it, then you must be a crack-pot. You are standing athwart the "consensus of scientists." You are disputing "settled science." You are a "global warming denier," the moral equivalent of an apologist for the Nazi holocaust.

But no such accusations are made against the protectionists who question the benefits of free trade among nations. Such people are in fact standing athwart 250 years of economics, and an overwhelming consensus of living economists. These protectionists are denying the enormous gains in standards of living and human freedom that are the direct result of free global trade.

Make no mistake about it. The benefits of free trade are settled science. It goes all the way back to the 18th century, beginning with the path-breaking work of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. From then till now, the science of economics has deepened its virtually unanimous embrace of free trade. Today's best-selling college economics textbook, Macroeconomics by Harvard's N. Gregory Mankiw, enshrines among the "ten principles of economics" the axiom that "Trade Can Make Everyone Better Off."

Indeed it can, and indeed it has. During the last several decades of unprecedented global economic growth we have witnessed increasing global trade and falling trade barriers. For all the worry about "outsourcing American jobs," the U.S. unemployment rate stands today at a low 4.5 percent. On the other hand, the Great Depression of the 1930s involved a collapse of global trade, triggered by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. Back then there was no outsourcing. But the unemployment rate exceeded 20 percent.

Economic theory aside, and real-world results aside, there's another fundamental argument for free trade. Simply, free trade is a human right. People have an unalienable right to trade with each other as they choose, be they next-door neighbors or half a world apart.

So why is it that when people question the free-trade consensus - when they deny the manifest evidence of its success or challenge its status as a human right - they are not treated like those who question global warming? Question the global warming consensus and you're something between a fool and a Nazi. But question free trade? Ah . that's different. That's politically correct.

Consider the front page article in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. It celebrated the courage of a handful of economists - all of whom happen to be politically active - who are "rethinking" and "critiquing" free trade (not "denying," mind you). Princeton's Alan Blinder, for example, is saying that, thanks to the new technologies of global trade, "40 million American jobs [are] at risk of being shipped out of the country in the next decade or two."

Of course, the story's author doesn't wonder how this brave rethinker and critiquer can predict the number of job losses 20 years into the future, or why he is silent on the number of new jobs that will be created over the same period. We learn only that "Mr. Blinder's job-loss estimates . are electrifying Democratic candidates," and that he is advising the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the issue. Would Clinton and Obama have been "electrified" if Blinder had estimated that global warming will go away over the next decade or two? It's doubtful.

A case in point: Last October, liberal senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe sent a letter to the CEO of Exxon Mobil urging him - one might say bullying him - to cut off his company's funding of a "small cadre of global climate change skeptics," to cease its "dangerous support of the `deniers.'" But when it comes to free trade, the liberals now in control of Congress are only too happy to support the deniers, whether or not they have Alan Blinder's credentials. The hypocrisy is undeniable.

To wit, when best-selling author Michael Crichton - who, as a trained doctor, at least has a background in science - questioned global warming while testifying before a Republican-chaired Senate committee, leftist bloggers dismissed him as an "egomaniacal `novelist.'" But in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade this week, the star witness was CNN's Lou Dobbs. His qualifications to stand against a 250-year scientific consensus on free trade are . well . come to think of it, he doesn't have any. He's just a well-known TV talking head who most nights can be seen ranting against the evils of trade and extolling the virtues of protectionism.

Global warming "deniers" are attacked, not because they stand against a scientific consensus, but because they stand against a powerful liberal special interest group: the environmental lobby. The global-warming threat must be maximized so that environmentalists can keep raising more money and getting more political influence.

Meanwhile, free-trade "deniers" are lionized, despite the fact that they stand against a scientific consensus and because they stand with a powerful liberal special-interest group: unions. Free trade must be opposed, because it means the transformation of traditional union jobs into non-union jobs that are better suited for a dynamic global economy.

So none of this has anything to do with science or scientific consensus after all. And it's certainly not a matter of promoting prosperity or preserving human rights. It's just liberal politics. And nowadays, that's something nobody dares deny.


Peak performance?

Peter Odell, one of the most astute, life-long observers of global oil scene, calls them "peak-oilers." Some of them were quite unhappy when I pointed out (in Energy at the Crossroads, in these pages, and in Worldwatch in January 2006) their propensity for wholesaling catastrophic scenarios of the world once the global oil production peaks and begins to decline. But how else can one label such writings as Richard C. Duncan's "Olduvai theory" according to which the declining oil extraction will plunge humanity into life comparable to that experienced by some of the first primitive hominids who inhabited that famous Kenyan gorge some 2.5 million years ago? And no one else can be blamed for the repeated failure of their forecasts but the prominent peak-oilers themselves. According to Colin Campbell the global oil extraction was to peak in 1989; Ivanhoe's peak was in 2000; Deffeyes set it first in 2003 and then, with ridiculous accuracy, on the Thanksgiving of 2005.

Well, the numbers for 2006 are in. And they show that even after OPEC once again cut its production (by 1.2 million barrels a day effective November 1, 2006) in order to arrest yet another rapid fall in prices, the global oil supply for the entire year rose once again, by about 0.85 million barrels a day. That is about 42 million metric tons a year, or more than the annual output of Oman or nearly twice the annual extraction in Azerbaijan, a major oil power on the Caspian Sea. But once we take into account the need to replace worldwide reserve depletion (currently amounting to more than one million barrels a day) this means that some 2 million barrels of new oil found their way on the global market, an equivalent of adding a bit more than UK's entire North Sea production or Iraq's annual extraction.

This supply had fully covered the global demand even with OPEC's production cuts and with China's record imports of oil bought in order to start filling the country's new massive strategic oil reserve. The average price of OPEC's basket of exported crude oils dropped from the peak of about $70/barrel in July to $55/barrel by the end of the year. And then it slid below $50/barrel in January 2007. In 2006 non-OPEC production rose strongly in the countries of the former Soviet Union, surpassing the level of 12 million barrels a day for the first time since the collapse of the USSR and coming within 5 percent of the record annual production reached in 1987 So much for the rumored inability of Russia to maintain its production, and for the "disappointing" results in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

Higher outputs came from Africa, particularly from Angola, as well as from Latin America, and even China recorded a small increase. Extraction in the United States, still recovering from the Katrina damage in the Gulf, dipped a bit but it is expected to increase this year (by about 4%) and again in 2008. And the world's largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, continues with its plans to expand its production capacity from the current 11 million barrels a day to 12 millions barrels a day by 2009. .

If one is to believe the catastrophic prophecies of Matthew Simmons, another prominent peak-oiler, this must be the stupidest business decision of the 21st century. Simmons claims that Saudis have falsified their oil reserve data so much that in reality they have only a fraction of the claimed oil left in the ground, and that their, and the world's, largest oilfield, al-Ghawar, has been so damaged by waterflooding (used for enhanced recovery of oil) that it faces imminent and massive extraction downturn. And yet Saudis will be investing nearly $50 billion between 2007 and 2011 to get this nonexistent oil to the global market. Perhaps they know something that Simmons is not aware of (these days it is, after all, de rigueur to say only bad things about Saudis).

And, of course, market forces eventually assert themselves as prices rise. In 2006 oil demand was down in all of the leading importing affluent countries (US, EU and Japan) and no dramatic increases are expected this year. Consequently, global oil extraction may be lower in 2007 than it was in 2006, but if such a dip were to take place (China's and India's imports will make it unlikely) it would reflect a reaction to prices, not any physical inability to produce more oil or outright absence of requisite oil reserves in the Earth's crust.

That another non-peak year came and went is no surprise (merely a rational expectation). But I was surprised with what I found when this non-event led me to return to King Hubbert's original peak oil forecasts and to discover how badly off they were.

Hubbert is the patron saint of peak-oilers, seen as an infallible and astonishingly prescient seer because he correctly predicted the peak of the US oil production in 1970. Not quite. In his March 8, 1956 presentation before the Spring Meeting of the Southern District Division of Production of the American Petroleum Institute, Hubbert plotted two production curves, one for the ultimate US output of 150 billion barrels that peaked in 1962 at 2.6 billion barrels a year, and another one for the ultimate output of 200 billion barrels that peaked in 1968 at 3 billion barrels a year. In later revisions of this original work (the last major one was published in October 1968 and published as a chapter in the National Academy Science's Resources and Man in 1969) he put the peak of the complete cycle of US petroleum liquids (that is crude oil and natural gas liquids) at "about 3.5 billion barrels a year . . . during the first half of the 1970-decade." The actual peak came in 1970 at 4.12 billion barrels, 18% above Hubbert's prediction.

That is not an insignificant miss, but it is a small error compared to Hubbert's insistence that the complete production curve of a resource is perfectly symmetrical -- that is, that the post-peak decline of extraction is a mirror image of the incline. This led Hubbert to produce a curve that put the US oil output in 1980 at about 3 billion barrels (while the actual production was 3.7 billion barrels) and the 2000 extraction at 1.2 billion barrels. The actual extraction was 2.8 billion barrels or 2.33 times higher, hardly an enviable accuracy for a 30-year forecast.

And Hubbert's record is no better in forecasting the peak of global oil extraction. In 1969 he put it (for two different estimates of ultimately recoverable oil) either in 1990 at 25 billion barrels, or in 2000 at 37 billion barrels, projecting again a symmetrical curve and continuing high demand that prevailed during the 1960s.

He could not, as nobody did, anticipate a substantial decline of oil demand following OPEC's two rounds (1973-74, 1979-81) of extortionary price increases. Consequently, the global oil extraction did not peak either in 1990, when it was actually about 4% below the level forecast by Hubbert, or in 2000, when it was, at 27.4 billion barrels, 26% lower than Hubbert's predicted peak. And while the global production still keeps going up, it was still below 31 billion barrels a year in 2006. So in this case Hubbert was nowhere near being correct either on the timing or the production level.

These facts, I am sure, will not make the least difference to the devotees of an imminent oil peak whose mantra has been to elevate the timing of an obviously inevitable event to a dreadful watershed of history, and whose insistence has been on pinpointing its largely irrelevant arrival. Irrelevant because once the extraction of conventional liquid oil peaks we will intensify our (already advancing) efforts to produce more non-conventional oil and to use more natural gas and accelerate the production of gas- and coal- and biomass-derived liquids.

Finally, a practical reminder: If there is an imminent peak of oil extraction, should not then the prospective shortage of that increasingly precious fuel result in relentlessly rising prices and should not buying a barrel of oil and holding onto it be an unbeatable investment? But a barrel of a high-quality crude, say West Texas intermediate, bought at $12.23/b in 1976 as a nest-egg for retirement and sold before the end of 2006 at $60/b would have earned (even when assuming no storage costs) about 1.2% a year, a return vastly inferior to almost any guaranteed investment certificate and truly a miserable gain when compared with virtually any balanced stock market fund. And a freedom-at-55 investor who bought that barrel at 30 years of age in 1980 and sold in 2005 would have realized a nearly forty per cent loss on his precious investment. Being a true believer in imminent peak oil may be fine as a provocative notion but not as a means of securing a comfortable retirement.


Mankind 'can't influence' climate says Australian expert

MANKIND is naive to think it can influence climate change, according to a prize-winning Australian geologist. Solar activity is a greater driver of climate change than man-made carbon dioxide, argues Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide and winner of several notable science prizes. "When meteorologists can change the weather then we can start to think about humans changing climate," Prof Plimer said. "I think we really are a little bit naive to think we can change astronomical and solar processes."

Speaking last night after presenting his theory for the first time, to the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in Sydney, Prof Plimer said he had researched the history of the sun, solar and supernovae activity and had been able to correlate global climates with solar activity. "But correlations don't mean anything, you really need a causation," Prof Plimer said. So he then examined how cosmic radiation builds up clouds. A very active sun blows away the cosmic radiation, while a less active sun allows radiation to build up, he said. "So you can very much tie in temperature, cloud formation, cosmic radiation and the sun," he said.

The next part of Prof Plimer's research was to examine the sources of carbon dioxide. He said he found that about 0.1 per cent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide was due to human activity and much of the rest due to little-understood geological phenomena.

Prof Plimer also argued El Nino and La Nina were caused by major processes of earthquake activity and volcanic activity in the mid-ocean ridges, rather than any increase in greenhouse gases. Nor does the melting of polar ice have anything to do with man-made carbon dioxide, he said. "Great icebergs come off, not due to temperature change but due to the physics of ice and the flow of ice," Prof Plimer said. "There's a lag, so that if temperature rises, carbon dioxide rises 800 years later. "If ice falls into the ocean in icebergs that's due to processes thousands of years ago."

On the same basis, changes to sea level and temperature are also unrelated to anything happening today, he said. "It is extraordinarily difficult to argue that human-induced carbon dioxide has any effect at all," he said.

Prof Plimer added that as the planet was already at the maximum absorbance of energy of carbon dioxide, any more would have no greater effect. There had even been periods in history with hundreds of times more atmospheric carbon dioxide than now with "no problem", he said.

The professor, a member of the Australian Skeptics, an organisation devoted to debunking pseudo-scientific claims, denied his was a minority view. "You'd be very hard pushed to find a geologist that would differ from my view," he said. He said bad news was more fashionable now than good and that people had an innate tendency to want to be a little frightened. But Prof Plimer conceded the politics of greenhouse gas emissions meant that attention was being given to energy efficiency, which he supported. The professor, who is writing a book on the subject, said he only used validated scientific data, published in reputable peer-reviewed refereed journals, as the basis of his theories.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


12 April, 2007


By Indur M Goklany

Although the SPM has some useful and apt things to say about the need for adaptation, it is flawed by the fact that it: * Overstates negative impacts and understates positive impacts of climate change. * Overstates the level of confidence that should be attached to the impacts on both human systems as well as "natural" systems (because the latter are also affected by human actions). * Fails to examine the impacts of climate change in the wider context of other stresses affecting humanity and the rest of nature, which would allow us to gauge the importance of climate change relative to other stresses. * Fails to examine the relationship between climate change and sustainable economic development more fully, which could mislead policymakers into opting for policies that would divert scarce resources from dealing with today's urgent problems in favor of policies to pursue longer term, and more uncertain, problems. Among the several problems regarding the SPM are the following:

1. Once one gets past the opaque verbiage of the SPM, it is clear that most of the negative impacts listed in the SPM are overstated, while the positive impacts are understated. This is particularly true for impacts that human beings can directly or indirectly alleviate through adaptation. The SPM implicitly acknowledges this by stating in the captions for Tables SPM-1 and SPM-2 (which cover pp. 15-17) that they do not account for adaptation and "changes or developments in adaptive capacity". This is also generally true for the impacts listed on pp. 7 through 14, as is implied by the sentence in the preamble to Section C that states, "The magnitude and timing of impacts will vary with the amount and timing of climate change and, in some cases, the capacity to adapt." Note that Part C, which includes the abovementioned tables, covers virtually all the material in the SPM that speaks to future impacts.

2. Overstatement of negative impacts and understatement of positive impacts occurs because the methodologies generally used in the impact studies do not account fully, if at all, for increases in "adaptive capacity" (i.e., the ability to adapt) that should occur if the world gets wealthier, as is assumed by the IPCC's emission scenarios. An increase in adaptive capacity would translate into greater "autonomous" (or "automatic") adaptation that would occur in the absence of explicit policies, because under a "business as usual" world, i.e., in the normal course of things, humans (as well as other species) will take steps to reduce harm to themselves, take advantage of any new opportunities that may come along, or both, regardless of whether anyone gives them the green light that it's OK to adapt.

3. A corollary of this methodological oversight is that most of these impacts studies are inconsistent with the level of economic development assumed by the IPCC's emission scenarios and, therefore, with their estimates of climate change. So we have the curious situation where high economic growth drives large emission estimates but the same level of economic growth is overlooked in estimating impacts. All the IPCC emission estimates assume that the world will become significantly wealthier between 1990 and 2100. Under the poorest scenario (the A2 scenario), the average GDP per capita in developing countries will be nine times higher in 2100 than in 1990 (in real dollars), while under the richest-but-warmest" scenario (the A1FI scenario), it will be 70 times higher than that for the average inhabitant of developed countries in 1990, i.e., she would be wealthier than her U.S. and Luxembourg counterpart in 1990).

This means developing countries should have much greater access to available technologies to cope with climate change than they have today. Equally important, technology would have advanced - existing technologies would be replaced by new and improved technologies and they will also be cheaper (in real dollars). But generally these developments are not fully considered.

4. In the few cases where they consider that existing technologies will be adopted more widely because of increasing wealth, these studies don't generally allow for new technologies. This is the case for some of the studies of agricultural production and hunger, for example. These studies estimate impacts for 2085 using technologies from the 1990s or earlier. This is like estimating today's food production and levels of hunger using technologies from the 1910s! You are bound to underestimate food production and overestimate hunger.

In developing countries prevalence of chronic hunger declined from 37% to 17% between 1970 and 2001, despite an 83% increase in population, in substantial part because of new technologies. These improvements would not be captured using the above methodologies had they been applied in, say, the 1960s to estimate hunger in the 2000s. [This view -- that adaptive capacities and technologies are static -- was exactly why Paul Ehrlich's predictions in the Population Bomb, for example, bombed in reality.]

Not allowing for secular technological change or for technologies developed specifically to alleviate any impacts of climatic changes does not reflect "business-as usual" as the IPCC scenarios claim to do. One should expect the greater the potential food shortfall, the greater the adaptive response. It means that net negative impacts for the future are overstated. Similarly, human health impacts are often estimated assuming that adaptive capacities are fixed as of the start date of the analysis. Under such a methodology the mortality and morbidity rates from water related diseases in the U.S., for example, would be the same in 2000 as in 1900. But in fact, these rates have declined by 99% or more during the 20th century for disease such as typhoid, paratyphoid, dysentery, malaria, etc. (Goklany 2007c). This indicates that because of such methodologies, the potential for error is very large indeed especially for analyses that span several decades.

5. Because increases in adaptive capacity with increasing wealth and technological development have been largely ignored, the confidence levels attached to numerical estimates of the impacts on human-affected systems are exaggerated.

6. Ignoring adaptation overstates impact estimates not only for so-called human systems (e.g., food production, hunger, water resource management, human health, etc.), it also overstates the adverse impacts on the "rest of nature." This is because the most important current-day threats to ecosystems and species are loss of habitat, and overexploitation of biological resources. Consider terrestrial ecosystems and species. The most significant threat for them is conversion of land for agriculture and timber. But if we produce more food or timber per acre of land that means we can reduce or relieve these threats on ecosystems and biodiversity. And, in fact, over the past century, we have been producing more food per acre. Today worldwide we feed almost twice as many people on an acre of land as we did in 1900, and we feed them better (as witnessed by the drop in chronic hunger, see above). This is a trend that should continue unless we reject technologies, such as bioengineered crops, that will help produce more food on less land and with fewer chemical inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides.

Moreover, some studies indicate that global requirements for cropland may indeed decline in the future (at least through the 2100) because of a combination of technological change, carbon fertilization and climatic changes. But less cropland means more land for the rest of nature. None of this is accounted for in the estimates of species extinction, as far as one can tell. Thus, those estimates should be viewed with suspicion on that basis alone, and the notion that we know the effects of climate change on species with "medium confidence" (p. 8) verges on the ludicrous.

7. In addition, as evidenced by the environmental initiatives that have been undertaken over the past decades not only in the US but also around the world (e.g., restoration of habitats, reductions in hunting and fishing quotas, reserving land for conservation purposes, agreement to manage or restrict fishing and hunting of various species etc.), other efforts will be made, even in the absence of climate change policy, to reduce pressures from non-climate change related threats to ecosystems and species which would, then, reduce the vulnerability of these systems to climate change. But none of these are factored into these analyses either.

8. There are additional reasons for skepticism regarding the level of confidence attached to estimates of impacts on ecosystems and species. First, impacts on species and ecosystems have to be based on local climatic changes. But the uncertainties in changes in temperature and precipitation increase as we go from the global to the regional to the local scales. Second, many of the estimates regarding shifts in ranges and species extinction are based on studies that employ the modeled association between current climates and present-day species distributions to predict future ranges and extinction risks under radically different climatic regimes where atmospheric CO2 concentrations are much higher, and rates of plant growth, water use efficiency, energy requirements of species, predator-prey relationships and, possibly, species-area relationships would all be different from what they are today.

Future outcomes may also be confounded by unanticipated evolutionary changes. There is also the possibility that species have broader climatic tolerances than indicated by their observed ranges would indicate. Moreover, with respect to vegetation in particular, species, once established, may not be easily moved or pushed aside.

9. Impacts assessments generally employ a series of models in which the uncertain output of each model provides the inputs for the next model. To compound matters, each model is itself based on uncertain assumptions and is necessarily a simplification of reality. Usually the series of models starts with assumptions of population growth, economic growth and technological development from 1990-2100 in order to generate emission scenarios. These emission scenarios then are used to generate atmospheric concentrations of the various greenhouse gases (ideally based on models of the global cycles involving each of the greenhouse gases). Next, these concentrations are used to calculate radiative forcing to estimate temporal and spatial changes in climatic variables. These variables are then fed into biophysical models to estimate location-specific biophysical changes (e.g., changes in the distribution of vegetation and species, sea level, timber and crop yields, etc.). Then depending on the system under consideration, these outputs may be used to drive socioeconomic models to estimate impacts on human beings, e.g., food production, hunger, etc. And, as noted previously, there are egregious oversimplifications and systematic errors in this step which overestimate net negative impacts.

Thus, we have a system where uncertainties build on each other. Unfortunately, there are few, if any, analyses that show how these errors and uncertainties propagate through the system of models. Given this, the SPM's characterization of the level of confidence attached to impacts estimates is overstated. It's hard to see how one can with a straight face claim that we have anything other than low confidence in the estimates.

10. Although the SPM notes that vulnerability to climate change will be exacerbated by other stresses, it fails to note that by the same token relieving these other stresses will increase the resilience of systems to climate change itself. Examples of this are furnished in paragraphs 6 and 7. 11. Although the SPM notes that vulnerability to climate change will be exacerbated by other stresses, it neglects literature that shows that through much of the rest of this century the contribution of climate change to the combined stresses on various systems is smaller than the contribution of other factors. [Some of this literature is summarized in Goklany 2005, 2007a, 2007b].

Consequently, the SPM fails to inform policymakers that through the foreseeable future dealing with these other factors could be more important - and could provide greater benefits in terms of advancing human and environmental well-being (Goklany 2005, 2007a).

12. Likewise, it fails to inform policymakers that dealing with these other stresses that climate change would exacerbate could help society deal with the additional stresses caused by climate change more effectively and possibly at lower costs (Goklany 2007a, 2007b).

13. The SPM obfuscates on the relationship between climate change and sustainable development. It suggests that climate change could impede nations' abilities to achieve sustainable development pathways. While this might be true in the longer term, over the foreseeable future it is lack of sustainable economic development that hinders their ability to cope with and alleviate the impacts of climate change. The failure to acknowledge that the lack of sustainable economic development constitutes a larger and more immediate problem than climate change (see paragraph 11) is potentially misleading in that policymakers may divert resources to solve longer term problems while ignoring current-day problems that are and will continue to be more urgent than climate change in the foreseeable future and which may actually be easier to solve (Goklany 2005, 2007a).


Look who's letting ideology overrule science

(See the original for links)

Environmentalists constantly reference the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the global climate. "You have the strongest consensus we have seen in the science community about global climate change since the conclusion that tobacco caused lung cancer," asserts Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) president Kevin Knobloch. Greenpeace also argues, "There is, in fact, a broad and overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, is caused in large part by human activities." And Friends of the Earth has gone after Exxon Mobil because it "has repeatedly attempted to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change and actively resisted attempts to limit carbon dioxide emissions through law."

Clearly when it comes to climate change, environmentalists righteously wrap themselves in the cloak of scientific "consensus." They excoriate scientists and others who doubt that man-made climate change will necessarily be disastrous, accusing some of being essentially paid liars for the fossil fuel industry. But for many environmentalist groups not all scientific consensuses are equal. Consider the case of genetically enhanced crops.

"GMOs [genetically modified organisms] should not be released into the environment as there is not adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health," warns Greenpeace. "Genetic engineering is imprecise and unpredictable. But most testing is carried out by the very biotech companies that have the most to gain from results that say GM food is safe," says Friends of the Earth. The Union of Concerned Scientists acknowledges that "there have been no serious environmental impacts-certainly no catastrophes-associated with the use of engineered crops in the United States." In addition, the UCS admits, "No major human health problems have emerged in connection with genetically modified food crops, which have been consumed by significant numbers of U.S. consumers." In fact, no--not just "no major"--human health problems have emerged. Nevertheless, the UCS concludes "the scientific evidence available to date, while encouraging, does not support the conclusion that genetically modified crops are intrinsically safe for health or the environment." What does "intrinsically safe" mean? On what evidence can the UCS conclude that even conventional crops are "intrinsically safe"?

The scientific consensus about current varieties of genetically improved crops stands in stark contrast to these dire environmentalist assertions. As evidence, consider a recent report issued by the International Council for Science (ICSU). The ICSU is an organization whose membership consists of 111 national academies of science and 29 scientific unions. In 2005, the ICSU issued a report based on a comprehensive analysis of 50-science based reviews of genetically modified crops. The ICSU concluded: "Currently available genetically modified foods are safe to eat." Some environmentalist critics claim that genes from genetically modified crops will "contaminate" the natural environment and conventional crops. The ICSU found, "there is no evidence of any deleterious environmental effects having occurred from the trait/species combinations currently available." The World Health Organization agrees that current varieties of GM foods "are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved."

A 2003 position paper by the Society of Toxicology found, "The level of safety of current BD [biotechnology-derived] foods to consumers appears to be equivalent to that of traditional foods." In 2002, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the scientific literature and sought expert advice about the safety of genetically modified foods. The GAO concluded, "Biotechnology experts believe that the current regimen of tests has been adequate for ensuring that GM (genetically modified) foods marketed to consumers are as safe as conventional foods." The experts with whom the GAO consulted also pointed out "there is no scientific evidence that GM foods cause long-term harm, such as increased cancer rates," and that "there is no plausible hypothesis of harm." GM foods might have adverse effects if they produced harmful proteins that that remained stable during digestion. However, the GAO noted that the proteins produced through genetic enhancement are in fact rapidly digested.

In 2000 the report Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture, issued under the auspices of seven national academies of science, including U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Academy, found that "no human health problems associated specifically with the ingestion of transgenic crops or their products have been identified." Also in 2000, a American Medical Association report noted, "Worldwide, many people are eating GM foods with no overt adverse effects on human health reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature and according to regulatory agencies."

Almost all of the previously analyses cited do suggest that more stringent regulations might be necessary if future genetic modifications significantly change the nutrition of foods. But here are a couple of rules of thumb for reasonable regulation of genetically improved crops. If a regulatory system would cover a specific trait were it in a conventionally bred crop, then it should also regulate that same trait in a GM crop. If not, then it should not be regulated in a GM crop either. Secondly, once a trait has been approved, it should be approved for all varieties and all crops. There is no need to make a trait that already been scientifically determined to be safe go through the regulatory system again and again and again.

In any case, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that current varieties of genetically enhanced crops are safe to eat and don't pose unusual risks to the natural environment. But that isn't stopping Greenpeace from waging a global "Say no to genetic engineering" campaign or the Friends of the Earth from demanding a GM Freeze. Perhaps the idea of scientific consensus is not all that it's cracked up to be. After all, scientific consensus does not mean "certain truth." Whatever the current consensus of any scientific issue is can change in the light of new research. Nevertheless, environmentalist ideologues accuse those who question the climate change consensus of bad faith and worse. But aren't they exhibiting a similar bad faith when they reject the broad scientific consensus on genetically modified crops?



Friedman is now accepted as having been right but he was for many years a lonely voice against a mistaken consensus

Milton Friedman died November 16, 2006, at the age of 94. Any attempt to put his contributions to economics into perspective can only begin to suggest the vast variety of ideas he discussed. Burton (1981, 53) commented that "attempting to portray the work of Milton Friedman . . . is like trying to catch the Niagara Falls in a pint pot."

At the beginning of his career, Friedman adopted two hypotheses that isolated him from the prevailing intellectual mainstream. First, central banks are responsible for inflation and deflation. Second, markets work efficiently to allocate resources and to maintain macroeconomic equilibrium. Because of his success in advancing these ideas in a way that shaped the understanding of the major economic events of this century and influenced public policy, Friedman stands out as one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century.


Until the 1970s, the economics profession overwhelmingly greeted Friedman's ideas with hostility. Future generations can easily forget the homogeneity of the post-war intellectual environment. Friedman challenged an intellectual orthodoxy. Not until the crisis within the economics profession in the 1970s prompted by stagflation and the failure of the Keynesian diagnosis of cost-push inflation with its remedy of wage and price controls did Friedman's ideas begin to receive support.

More than anyone, over the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, Friedman kept debate alive within the economics profession. Because economics is a discipline that advances through debate and diversity of views, it is hard to account for the near-consensus in macroeconomics in the post-war period and also the antagonism that met Friedman's challenge to that consensus.

In order to place his ideas in perspective, this section provides some background on prevailing views in the 1950s and 1960s. The Depression had created a near-consensus that the price system had failed and that it had failed because of the displacement of competitive markets with large monopolies. Intellectuals viewed the rise of the modern corporation and labor unions as evidence of monopoly power. They concluded that only government, not market discipline, could serve as a countervailing force to their monopoly power....


Greenies Fight To Stop Green Energy

Post below lifted from Cheat-Seeking Missiles -- which see for links

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had great, green ideas for his sprawling burb: He envisioned "the greenest city and cleanest city in America," with 20% of the city's power to be renewable by 2010.

Then the Greenies got in the way. After the city let electricity producers in Utah know that LA would buy no more of their "dirty" electricity after the current contract expires in 2023, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power drew up plans for an 85-mile-long "Green Path" energy corridor that would bring electricity generated from solar, geothermal and nuclear power sources in southeastern California and Arizona.

Knowing they had to get started now because the clock was ticking for the 2023 deadline when the cheap electricity would have to be replaced with something, LA started the environmental review for its environmentally friendly, greenhouse gas-snuffing Green Path. Such a nice name! So mild and pleasant.

Unless you're the Center for Biological Diversity, a group who's founder has said his goal was no less than the depopulation of the American West; then you see the Green Path as a warpath. The LA Times quotes the CBD:

"Not only is such energy consumption not 'green,' it is unacceptable under any name.. The ends cannot justify the means," Justin Augustine of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a letter to Villaraigosa last week.

CBD doesn't want any energy coming from anywhere. No grid; just self-sufficient mud huts will do -- or better yet, just go back to wherever your ancestors came from and leave the West to the staff of the CBD, who knows how to appreciate the land and deserves to be on it, unlike us.

Other Greenies are less radical than the CBD, but are opposed to the Green Path nonetheless, because cuddly as the name is, it's really just power lines -- power lines that cut through the Big Morongo Wildlife Preserve, the Pipes Canyon Wilderness Preserve and a corner of the San Bernardino National Forest.

DWP officials said they decided on a "preferred alternative" in December after studying possible routes for more than a year. They said the route they chose would be the least intrusive to existing homes, tribal lands, national parks and wilderness areas. Environmentalists scoffed at that claim. "We were just shocked," preservationist David Myers said of his reaction after looking at a map of the route.

Presumably, since he would agree with the protection of tribal lands, national parks and wilderness areas, Myers was shocked because the protection of homes was a factor in determining the best route.

So we have the Big Monster of global warming battling against the Local Bugaboo of power lines, and in this epic battle, the very Greenies who fret for the future of the planet are taking the Little Bugaboo's side. Here's the LAT again:

"People do not like the way power lines look," said George Douglas, spokesman for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Energy.

He said vast amounts of renewable resources exist across the country. Enough wind turbines could be built in North Dakota to power Chicago. One hundred square miles of desert solar panels in California, Nevada or New Mexico could power most of the United States.

But, Douglas said, "the chances it's going to happen are zero, because nobody's going to build the transmission lines. They're great big things that cost a lot of money, and people don't like them. They are unsightly - there's no two ways about it - and when you build them, they definitely disturb the land."

DWP officials are soldiering on, saying failure is not an option. But they don't understand. When you're up against Greenies, you have to understand that success is not an option. No matter how much they influence your idea to make it smaller and less harming to the environment, no matter how many court cases they win, no matter how much the drive up the cost of housing or energy, they can never accept success.

You don't believe me? Well here in OC, they fought for 30 years to stop the redevelopment of an old, dirty coastal oil field, so they could see the land converted into wetlands. They won, totally. The water in this photo was supposed to be close to 14,000 homes and a marina. The Greenies fought until no development at all was allowed in the lowland areas, and funds were found to restore it to wetlands. But boo-hoo, 500 or so homes will be built on the mesa above the land. What a tragedy! What a defeat!

And that's not all -- the wetlands victory is nothing the Greenies can take for granted. In a big confab a couple weeks back, reports an email making the rounds through the local environmental community, one of the leaders of the preservation group had this view:

He listed several continuing threats to Bolsa Chica, including sea level rise due to global warming, urban runoff, oil spills, invasive species, misguided restoration efforts, vandalism, pets and over usage.

Never be satisfied! Never relax in the glow of victory! The Greenies of the world are alone in their struggle to save the planet, so every effort is vital and any loss will plunge the orb into ecological chaos! So they must fight on, they must fight everything, they must never yield, never give up! Never! NEVER! So they must fight LA's Green Path, and keep it from transporting the very renewable energy they want us to use. Don't worry. They know what's right for us, and they will fight us until we stop knowing what's right for us.

(And I am sure that the electricity producers in Utah sleep well at night - JR)


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


11 April, 2007

Greenie versus Greenie: Planting trees 'contributes to global warming'

Most of the "pollution permits" that Al Gore sells himself are supposed to finance tree plantings. How ironical that many such plantings INCREASE the warming effect coming from the sun

PLANTING new trees in snow-covered northern regions may actually contribute to global warming as they have the counter-effect of tropical forests, a study shows. While rainforests cool the planet by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing clouds that reflect sunlight, the dark canopy of Canadian, Scandinavian and Siberian forests catches sunrays that would be reflected back to space by the snow, the study said.

The study, published today in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that reforestation projects in the tropics would help mitigate global warming but would be "counterproductive" in high latitudes. "Our study shows that only tropical rainforests are strongly beneficial in helping slow down global warming," Govindasamy Bala, who led the research, said. "It is a win-win situation in the tropics because trees in the tropics, in addition to absorbing carbon dioxide, promote convective clouds that help to cool the planet," he said. "In other locations, the warming from the albedo effect (sunlight absorption) either cancels or exceeds the net cooling from the other two effects," said Mr Bala, an atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Reseachers used a three-dimensional computer simulation to study the effects of large-scale deforestation and look at the positive and negative effects of tree cover at different latitudes. "When it comes to rehabilitating forests to fight global warming, carbon dioxide might be only half of the story; we also have to account for whether they help to reflect sunlight by producing clouds, or help to absorb it by shading snowy tundra," said study co-author Ken Caldeira.

However, the authors did not endorse deforestation of the boreal forests as a measure against global warming. "Preservation of ecosystems is a primary goal of preventing global warming, and the destruction of ecosystems to prevent global warming would be a counterproductive and perverse strategy," said Mr Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution. Researchers from Stanford University in California and Universite Montpellier II in France contribute to the study.


Why So Gloomy?

By Richard S. Lindzen

Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators-and many scientists-seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature-a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week.

A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now. Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate. There is no evidence, for instance, that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, according to scientists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which released the second part of this year's report earlier this month). Indeed, meteorological theory holds that, outside the tropics, weather in a warming world should be less variable, which might be a good thing.

In many other respects, the ill effects of warming are overblown. Sea levels, for example, have been increasing since the end of the last ice age. When you look at recent centuries in perspective, ignoring short-term fluctuations, the rate of sea-level rise has been relatively uniform (less than a couple of millimeters a year). There's even some evidence that the rate was higher in the first half of the twentieth century than in the second half. Overall, the risk of sea-level rise from global warming is less at almost any given location than that from other causes, such as tectonic motions of the earth's surface.

Many of the most alarming studies rely on long-range predictions using inherently untrustworthy climate models, similar to those that cannot accurately forecast the weather a week from now. Interpretations of these studies rarely consider that the impact of carbon on temperature goes down-not up-the more carbon accumulates in the atmosphere. Even if emissions were the sole cause of the recent temperature rise-a dubious proposition-future increases wouldn't be as steep as the climb in emissions.

Indeed, one overlooked mystery is why temperatures are not already higher. Various models predict that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the world's average temperature by as little as 1.5 degrees Celsius or as much as 4.5 degrees. The important thing about doubled CO2 (or any other greenhouse gas) is its "forcing"-its contribution to warming. At present, the greenhouse forcing is already about three-quarters of what one would get from a doubling of CO2. But average temperatures rose only about 0.6 degrees since the beginning of the industrial era, and the change hasn't been uniform-warming has largely occurred during the periods from 1919 to 1940 and from 1976 to 1998, with cooling in between. Researchers have been unable to explain this discrepancy.

Modelers claim to have simulated the warming and cooling that occurred before 1976 by choosing among various guesses as to what effect poorly observed volcanoes and unmeasured output from the sun have had. These factors, they claim, don't explain the warming of about 0.4 degrees C between 1976 and 1998. Climate modelers assume the cause must be greenhouse-gas emissions because they have no other explanation. This is a poor substitute for evidence, and simulation hardly constitutes explanation. Ten years ago climate modelers also couldn't account for the warming that occurred from about 1050 to 1300. They tried to expunge the medieval warm period from the observational record-an effort that is now generally discredited. The models have also severely underestimated short-term variability El Ni¤o and the Intraseasonal Oscillation. Such phenomena illustrate the ability of the complex and turbulent climate system to vary significantly with no external cause whatever, and to do so over many years, even centuries.

Is there any point in pretending that CO2 increases will be catastrophic? Or could they be modest and on balance beneficial? India has warmed during the second half of the 20th century, and agricultural output has increased greatly. Infectious diseases like malaria are a matter not so much of temperature as poverty and public-health policies (like eliminating DDT). Exposure to cold is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.

Moreover, actions taken thus far to reduce emissions have already had negative consequences without improving our ability to adapt to climate change. An emphasis on ethanol, for instance, has led to angry protests against corn-price increases in Mexico, and forest clearing and habitat destruction in Southeast Asia. Carbon caps are likely to lead to increased prices, as well as corruption associated with permit trading. (Enron was a leading lobbyist for Kyoto because it had hoped to capitalize on emissions trading.) The alleged solutions have more potential for catastrophe than the putative problem. The conclusion of the late climate scientist Roger Revelle-Al Gore's supposed mentor-is worth pondering: the evidence for global warming thus far doesn't warrant any action unless it is justifiable on grounds that have nothing to do with climate.

(Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies)


Malthus, Machiavelli, and Pop-Ecology

Below is a radical libertarian view from R.A. Wilson. He has some interesting history

[True] Ecological science, like all science, is relativistic, evolutionary, and progressive; that is, it regards all generalizations as hypothetical and is always ready to revise them. It seeks truth, but never claims to have obtained all truth.

Pop ecology, or ecological mysticism, is the reverse in all respects. It is absolutist, dogmatic, and fanatical. It does not usually refer its arguments back to ecological science (except vaguely and often inaccurately); it refers them to emotions, moral judgements, and the casual baggage of ill-assorted ideas that make up pop culture generally. Ecological mysticism, in short, is only rhetorically connected with the science of ecology, or any science; it is basically a crusade, a quasi-religion, an ideology

...It is my suspicion that the usefulness of the ideology to the ruling elite is no accident..The tax-exempt foundations which largely finance Pop Ecology are funded by the so-called Yankee Establishment - the Eastern banking-industrial interests of whom the Rockefellers are the symbols. If this Yankee financing is not "coincidental" and "accidental" (based on purely disinterested charity) - if the ecological-mystical movement is serving Yankee Banker interests - a great deal of current debate is based on deliberately created mutual misunderstanding

. Consider the following widely-published and widely believed propositions: "There isn't enough to go around." "The Revolution of Rising Expectations, since the 18th Century, was based on fallacy." "Reason and Science are to be distrusted; they are the great enemies." "We are running out of energy." "Science destroys all it touches." "Man is vile and corrupts Nature." "We must settle for Lowered Expectations."

Whether mouthed by the Club of Rome or Friends of the Earth, this ideology has one major social effect: people who are living in misery and deprivation, who might otherwise organize to seek better lives, are persuaded to accept continued deprivation, for themselves and their children.

That such resignation to poverty, squalor, disease, misery, starvation, etc. is useful to ruling elites has frequently been noted by Marxists a propos pre-ecological mysticism; and, indeed, people can only repeat the current neo-puritan line by assuming that the benefit to the Yankee oligarchy is totally accidental and not the chief purpose of the promulgation of this ideology.

"I don't think humanity deserves to survive," stated one letter to Co-Evolution Quarterly. ..The only rationale for continuing the neo-puritan Lowered Expectations, in the light of these data, would be (a) to prove that Fuller, Gabel and their associates have been fudging or corrupting their figures - a demonstration none of the eco-puritans have attempted; or (b) a blunt assertion that most of humanity deserves to live in misery.

. For perspective,it should be remembered that the ideology of Lowered Expectations arrived on the historical scene immediately after the upsurge of Rising Expectations. That is, after the Utopian hopes of the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, almost as if in reaction, an employee of the British East India Company, Thomas Malthus, created the first "scientific" argument that the ideals of those documents could never be achieved. Malthus had discovered that at his time world population was growing faster than known resources, and he assumed that this would always be true, and that misery would always be the fate of the majority of humanity.

The first thing wrong with Malthus's science is that "known resources" are not given by nature; they depend on the analytical capacities of the human mind. We can never know how many resources can be obtained from a cubic foot of the universe: all we know is how much we have found thus far, at a given date. You can starve in the middle of a field of wheat if your mind hasn't identified wheat as edible. Real Wealth results from Real Knowledge, which is increasinng faster all the time.

Thus the second thing wrong with Malthus's scenario is that it is no longer true. Concretely, more energy has been found in every cubic foot of the universe than Malthus ever imagined; and, as technology has spread, each nation has spontaneously experienced a lowered birth rate after industrializing.

Unfortunately, between the 18th century inventory of Malthus and the 20th century inventory of Fuller et al., the Malthusian philosophy had become the pragmatic working principle of the British ruling class, and a bulwark against French and American radicalism. Malthusianism-plus-Machiavellianism was then quickly learned by all ruling classes elsewhere which wished to compete with the British for world domination. This was frankly acknowledged by the "classical" political economists of that period, following Ricardo, which led to economics being dubbed "the dismal science" Benjamin Jowett, an old-fashioned humanist, voiced a normal man's reaction to this dismal science: "I have always felt a certain horror of political economists since I heard one of them say that he feared the famine of 1848 [in Ireland] would not kill more than a million people, and that would scarcely be enough to do much good." In fact, the English rulers allowed the famine to continue until it killed more than two million.

In the 1920's, Karl Haushofer studied Malthusian-Machiavellian political economy in England with Prof. H.J. Mackinder - whose coldblooded global thinking coincidentally inspired Bucky fuller to begin thinking globally but more humanistically. Haushofer took the most amoral aspects of Makinder's geopolitics, mingled them with Vrill Society occultism, and forged the philosophy of Realpolitik, which Hitler adopted as part of the official Nazi ideology. the horror of the Nazi regime was so extreme that few ruling classes dare express the Malthusian-Machiavellian philosophy openly anymore, although if is almost certainly the system within which they do their thinking.

As expressed openly by British political economists in the 19th century, and maniacally by the Nazis, Realpolitik says roughly,"Since there isn't enough to go around, most people must starve. In this desperate situation, who deserves to survive and live in affluence? Only the genetically superior. We will now demonstrate that we are the genetically superior, because we are smart enough and bold enough to grab what we want at once.

Since the fall of Hitler, this combination of Malthus and Machiavelli is no longer acceptable to most people. A more plausible, less overtly vicious Malthusianism is needed to justify a system in which a few live in splendor and the majority are condemned to squalor. THIS IS WHERE POP ECOLOGY COMES IN.

The pop ecologists now state the Malthusian scenario for the the ruling elite, since it sounds self-serving when stated by the elite. There is an endless chorus of "There isn't enough to go around . Our hopes and ideals were all naive and impossible . Science has failed . We must all make sacrifices," etc., until Lowered Expectations are drummed into everybody's head.

Of course, when it comes time to implement this philosophy through action, it always turns out that the poor [those making $200,000 or less] are the ones who have to make the sacrifices, not the elite. But this is more or less hidden, unless you are watching the hands that moves the pea from cup to cup, and if you do notice it, you are encouraged to blame "those damned environmentalists." Thus, the elite gets what it wants, and anybody who doesn't like it is maneuvered by the media into attributing this to the science of ecology, the cause of environmentalism, or Ralph Nader." "The Ultimate implications of eco-mysticism are explicitly stated in theodore Roszak's "Where the Wasteland Ends". Roszak argues that science is phychologically harmful to anybody who pursues it and culturally destructive to any nation which allows it. In short, he would take us back, not just to a medieval living standard, but to a medieval religious tyranny where those possessing what he calls gnosis - the Illuminati - would be entirely free of nagging criticism based on logic or experiment.

The Inquisition would not try Galileo in Roszak's ideal eco- society; a man like Galileo simply would not be allowed o exist. the similarity to the notions of Haushofer and the Vril society is unnerving." "(On the Vril Society, see L. Pauwels and J. Bergier, "Morning of the Magicians". On the parallels between the Vril society and Roszakian pop ecology, see the excellent novel, "The Speed of Light", by Gwyneth Cravens.)

Or consider this quotation from Pop Ecologist Gary Snyder, 'But what I'm talking about is not what critics immediately call 'the Stone Age.' As Dave Brower, the founder of Friends of the Earth, is fond of saying, 'Heck, no, I'd just like to go back to the 20's.' Which isn't an evasion because there was almost half the existing population then, and we still had a functioning system of public transportation." ("City Miner", spring 1979)

In short, Snyder wants to "get rid of" two billion people. Those who believe that none of the Pop Ecologists realize that their proposals involve massive starvation for the majority should consider this question profoundly. Benjamin Jowett, who experienced horror at the deliberate starvation of one million Irishmen, would have no words to convey his revulsion of this proposed genocide of millions.

In this context, note that the only ideology opposing eco- puritanism usually well-represented by the mass media is that of the Cowboys-new Western wealth, which is still naive and barbaric in comparison to the Yankee establishment. the cowboy response to Pop Ecology, as to any idea they don't like, is simply to bark and growl at it; their candidate, now in the White House, is famous for allowing vast destruction of California's magnificent redwoods on the grounds that "if you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all." Other and more intelligent criticisms of Pop Ecology, such as have come form some Marxists and some right-wing libertarians, are simply ignored by the media, with the consequence that ecological debate - as far as the general public knows it - is, de facto, debate btween the Yankees and the Cowboys. Once again, it may be "happy coincidence" that keeps the debate on that level is just what the elite wants, or it may be more than a "happy coincidence." "George Bernard Shaw once noted that an Englishman never believes anybody is moral unless they are uncomfortable. To the extent that Pop Ecology shares this attitude and wishes to save our souls by making us suffer, it is just another of the many forms of puritanism. To the extent, however, that it insists that abundance for all is impossible (in an age when, for the first time in history, such abundance is finally possible) it merely mirrors ruling class anxieties. "The ruling class elite shares the "robin Hood" myth with most socialists; they do not think it is possible to feed the starving without first robbing the rich.

Perhaps these ruling class terrors and the supporting cult of Pop Ecology will wither away when it becomes generally understood that abundance for all literally means abundance for all ; that, in fuller's words, modern technology makes it possible to advantage everybody without disadvantaging anybody.

In this context, look for a minute at some very interesting words from Glenn T. Seaborg, representative Yankee bureaucrat, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. "American society will successfully weather its crises and emerge in the 1990's as a straight and highly disciplined, but happier society. Today's violence, permissiveness and self-indulgence will disappear as a result of a series of painful shocks, the first of which is the current energy crises . Americans will adjust to these shortages with a quiet pride and a spartan-like spirit "

Is it necessary to remark that phrases like "highly disciplined" and "spartan-like" have a rather sinister ring when coming from ruling class circles? Does anybody think it is the elite who will be called upon to make "spartan" sacrifices? Is it not possible that the eco-mysticism within this call for neofascism is a handy rationalization for the kind of authoritarianism that all elites everywhere always try to impose? And is there any real world justification for such medievalism on a planet where, as Fuller has demonstrated, 99.99999975 percent of the energy is not yet being used?

We live in an age of artificial scarcity, maintained by ignorance and fear. the government has been paying farmers not to grow food for fifty years - while millions starve. Labor unions, business and government conspire to hold back the microprocessor revolution - because none of them know how to deal with the massive unemployment it will cause. (Fuller's books could tell them.) The utilities advertise continually that "solar power is at least forty years in the future" when my friend Karl Hess, and hundreds of others already live in largely solar powered houses. These propaganda advertisements are just a delaying action because the utilities still haven't figured out how to put a meter between us and the sun.

And Pop Ecology, perhaps only by coincidence, keeps this madness going by insisting that scarcity is real, and nobody wonders why the Establishment pays the bill for making superstars of these merchants of gloom.


As the sun rises above the Aral Sea, Alek, a local fisherman, steers the boat, leans forward and pulls the net out of the glittering water. It is full of carp, sturgeon and flounder - just two years ago he could not have even dreamt of this catch. "All thanks to the dam," Alek grins as he throws the fish into a growing pile on the bottom of his rowing boat. The dam is part of a $68m project, initiated by the Kazakh government and financed by loans from the World Bank. It is an ambitious undertaking that aims to reverse one of the world's worst man-made environmental disasters and bring back the sea which many predicted could never return.

"The Aral Sea did not die, the Aral Sea was murdered," said Nazhbagin Musabaev, the governor of the Aralsk region. 'Die gracefully' Mr Musabaev remembers how in the late 1960s the Soviet government held a plenary session in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, during which the Deputy Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources of the USSR talked about the government plans for boosting the region's cotton production. The two main Central Asian rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya, he said, would be diverted to irrigate the cotton plantations in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. "But what will happen to the Aral?" someone from the audience shouted. "The Aral," the deputy minister responded, "will have to die off gracefully."

But the death of the Aral was far from graceful. As the water-starved sea shrank, the desert spread, changing the climate, destroying the eco-system, eradicating entire species and forcing thousands of people to flee. Every year fishermen would have to travel further and further to get to the water, and every year there would be less and less fish left to catch. Desertification and rising salt levels in the shrinking sea brought salt storms. Diseases, like anaemia and cancer, swept through communities. By the 1990s the world's fourth largest inland body of water had shrunk to a quarter of its size.

Today, dropped in the middle of the grey desert is the village of Dzhambul, once home to a thriving fishing community. Dotting the area, which was once the deepest point of the Aral, are skeletons of rusting ships. Next to them, camels graze on the colourless dry grass that pokes out from the grey sand. Future hopes Jalkasbai, a fisherman from Dzhambul, remembers the days when life here was very different. "All my childhood I was going fishing with my father and my brothers, but my sons grew up without the sea," Jalkasbai said. "But now, I hope my grandchildren will have a chance to become fishermen."

It is a six-hour drive across the desert to get to the place that has given Jalkasbai, and thousands like him, hope for the future. The recently constructed 13km dam has split the Aral Sea in two parts. The dam did not solve the entire problem. On the Uzbek side the Southern Sea continues to shrink. "The Uzbek government needs to hurry if they want to preserve at least some of the sea," Mr Musambaev said. But he added, that was no longer Kazakhstan's problem. In Kazakhstan, the dam has allowed the river to feed the northern Aral and as a result the sea has been pushing back into the desert. Kazakh officials say 40% of the water has already returned. The fishermen are back in their boats. The clouds and the rain have returned.

A short drive away from the dam, a group of fishermen camp out in tents by the shore. Jandos Kumanov spent his entire winter here. The sea is still too far from his home village, but the increasing number of fish made the trip worthwhile. "In the last two years life has become easier," he said. "You can see fishermen are now building houses, buying cars, and sending their children to schools outside the big cities"

And it may all get even better. Using a new $126m World Bank loan, the government now plans to build a second dam, which they hope will bring the water back to the port of Aralsk. "The sea has left the harbour, but it hasn't left our hearts," reads a dilapidated sign in the dried-up Aralsk harbour. Aralsk, a grim, rundown provincial town, was once home to the biggest port along the Aral coastline. The Aral is still at least 40km (25 miles) away from the harbour, but the second stage of the project, the government says, could bring it back by 2010.



As experts in Brussels wrangle over the wording of a UN report on the impact of global warming, the EU's own climate policy is stagnating. Even the emissions trade, once held up as a model to be emulated, is floundering. EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas focused his ire on Australia at the start of a meeting of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week. He called on the world's second-biggest producer of carbon dioxide (CO2) to finally ratify the Kyoto protocol, which aims to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that scientists say are primarily responsible for global warming.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard's response was brusque: "You've got the spokesman for a group of countries lecturing us about not having signed Kyoto, yet the great bulk of the countries on whose behalf he speaks are falling well behind their Kyoto targets and are doing less well than Australia in meeting them," he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio. "Our answer to the spokesman for the European Union is look to your own affairs, get your countries complying with the targets you've proclaimed," he said.

Dimas' spokeswoman, Barbara Helfferich, was keen to rebuff the criticism. "We said what needed to be said. And the EU will in any case comply with its Kyoto targets," she told DW-WORLD.DE. But Howard had a point. The EU is far from attaining the targets it agreed to by ratifying the Kyoto protocol. The 15 older EU states are obliged to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions by eight percent by 2012 in comparison to 1990 levels, while the newer members of the bloc agreed to different targets. But it was recently revealed that the EU had only achieved 1.6 percent by 2005. In 2006, the countries carbon dioxide emissions actually increased by 1.5 percent above the previous year's level.

Critics lay some of the blame on the EU's emissions trade, which allows companies to pollute as long as they have the necessary certificates, which can be traded. The idea was that businesses would invest in environmentally friendly technologies to cut emissions if their only other option was to pay for a limited number of expensive licenses to pollute. But the emissions trade has so far failed to bring about a decrease in CO2 pollution. The EU issued too many certificates, according to Hans-Juergen Nantke, head of the emissions trade office at Germany's Federal Environmental Agency. "That's why the prices hit rock bottom," he said. A ton of CO2 cost nearly 30 euros ($40) in spring 2006 at the European Energy Exchange in Leipzig. Today the price stands at less than one euro.

Buying the right to pollute has become so cheap because the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, made mistakes when it estimated CO2 emissions. In 2006, Europe's industries were able to emit 50 million tons more CO2 than they ought to have. Since the prices for certificates were so cheap, businesses didn't necessarily see the need to invest in new technologies that would produce fewer emissions. "When prices were higher, that happened," said Verena Graichen, an expert on environmental protection at the Institute for Applied Ecology, a German think tank. German power companies, for example, had shut down old lignite coal power plants in favor of more environmentally friendly anthracite coal plants although the latter were more expensive to run, she said.

"Unfortunately the emissions trade doesn't work very well, but we can't change anything anymore," conceded Dimas' spokeswoman Helfferich. Instead, she suggested looking to the future. In 2008, the second phase of the emissions trade, which continues until 2012, is set to begin. In order to meet the Kyoto targets, the European Commission has mandated a much lower number of emission certificates be issued. "From 2008 to 2012, we will fulfill four Kyoto percent," Helfferich predicted and referred to dozens of EU projects concerning climate protection as well as the emissions trade, which she said would then work "significantly better."

Current prices for emissions certificates won't have an effect on their cost in the future, since the price will be recalculated in 2008. However, their greatly reduced number has already had an influence on today's market: "futures," that is, options on certificates that will be traded in the future, already cost between 16 and 17 euros per ton.

But critics say the EU should alter the plans for the second phase of the emissions trade. Instead of issuing the licenses to pollute largely for free in 2008, industry should have to buy them from the start. "Companies don't receive machines for free," pointed out Nantke of Germany's Environmental Agency.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


10 April, 2007


The following is an excerpt from a 1997 paper by T.V. Segalstad, Associate Professor of Geochemistry at the University of Oslo. The paper challenges many of the numerous assumptions in Warmism but some scientific background is needed to follow his arguments. His history below can, however, I think, be followed by anyone. It shows how past levels of CO2 were arrived at by the most dubious methods -- he shows that any data not suiting the assumptions of the Warmists were simply ignored. A highly variable history of CO2 measurements was "smoothed" simply by ignoring the values that did not fit the Warmist theory! So the CO2 history we normally have presented to us is, as Prof. Beck has also recently pointed out, a straight fraud.

3. The foundation of the CO2 dogma - early atmospheric CO2 measurements

In order to construct a "CO2 Greenhouse Effect Doom" dogma, it will be necessary to justify that (1) pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 was lower than today, (2) atmospheric CO2 has steadily risen from its pre-industrial level to today's level, (3) Man's burning of fossil fuel is causing an increase in atmospheric CO2 level, (4) hence atmospheric CO2 must have a long residence time (lifetime), and (5) atmospheric temperatures are increasing due to Man's burning of fossil fuel.

Callendar (1938) revived the hypothesis of "Greenhouse Warming" due to man's activity, proposed by Arrhenius (1896). Callendar may truly be regarded as the father of the current dogma on man-induced global warming (Jaworowski et al., 1992 b). In order to support his hypothesis, Callendar (1940, 1958) selected atmospheric CO2 data from the 19th and 20th centuries. Fonselius et al. (1956) showed that the raw data ranged randomly between about 250 and 550 ppmv (parts per million by volume) during this time period, but by selecting the data carefully Callendar was able to present a steadily rising trend from about 290 ppmv for the period 1866 - 1900, to 325 ppmv in 1956.

Callendar was strongly criticized by Slocum (1955), who pointed out a strong bias in Callendar's data selection method. Slocum pointed out that it was statistically impossible to find a trend in the raw data set, and that the total data set showed a constant average of about 335 ppmv over this period from the 19th to the 20th century. Bray (1959) also criticized the selection method of Callendar, who rejected values 10% or more different from the "general average", and even more so when Callendar's "general average" was neither defined nor given.

Note that Callendar (1940) wrote: "There is, of course, no danger that the amount of CO2 in the air will become uncomfortably large because as soon as the excess pressure in the air becomes appreciable, say about 0.0003 atmos., the sea will be able to absorb this gas as fast as it is likely to be produced."

Callendar (1949) repeated this fact, but went on to say: "As the deep waters of the sea move slowly and only shallow contact surface is involved in the carbon-dioxide equilibrium, this reservoir does not immediately control a sudden eruption of the gas such as has occurred this century. It will be hundreds or perhaps thousands of years before the sea absorbs its fair share." Callendar believed that nearly all the CO2 produced by fossil fuel combustion has remained in the atmosphere. He suggested that the increase in atmospheric CO2 may account for the observed slight rise in average temperature in northern latitudes during the recent decades.

The "CO2 Greenhouse Effect Doom" was being substantiated by Revelle & Suess (1957) who wrote: "Thus human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment of a kind which could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future. Within a few centuries we are returning to the air and oceans the concentrated organic carbon stored over hundreds of millions of years." But by considering the chemical facts on the exchange of CO2 between the atmosphere and the ocean, they concluded that only a total increase of 20 to 40% in atmospheric CO2 can be anticipated by burning all fossil fuel. This is comparable to the 20% increase calculated by Segalstad from the air/sea CO2 partition coefficient given by chemical equilibrium constants (Segalstad, 1996).

At the same time Craig (1957) pointed out from the natural (by cosmic rays) radiocarbon (14-C) production rate that atmospheric CO2 is in active exchange with very large CO2 reservoirs in the ocean and biosphere. However, Callendar (1958) had apparently more faith in his carefully selected CO2 data, because he commented Craig's conclusion by writing: "Thus, if the increase shown by the measurements discussed here is even approximately representative of the whole atmosphere, it means that the oceans have not been accepting additional CO2 on anything like the expected scale."

4. The building of the dogma - recent atmospheric CO2 measurements

The stir around the atmospheric CO2 data selected by Callendar made it necessary to start compiling analytical data of contemporary atmospheric CO2. 19 North-European stations measured atmospheric CO2 over a 5 year period from 1955 to 1959. Measuring with a wet-chemical technique the atmospheric CO2 level was found to vary between approximately 270 and 380 ppmv, with annual means of 315 - 331 ppmv, and there was no tendency of rising or falling atmospheric CO2 level at any of the 19 stations during this 5 year period (Bischof, 1960). The data are particularly important because they are unselected and therefore free of potential biases from selection procedures, unlike the CO2 measurements based on the procedures at Mauna Loa (see below). Note that these measurements were taken in an industrial region, and would indeed have shown an increase in CO2 levels if increasing amounts of anthropogenic CO2 were accumulating in the atmosphere during this period.

During the same period atmospheric CO2 measurements were started near the top of the strongly CO2-emitting (e.g., Ryan, 1995) Hawaiian Mauna Loa volcano. The reason for the choice of location was that it should be far away from CO2-emitting industrial areas. At the Mauna Loa Observatory the measurements were taken with a new infra-red (IR) absorbing instrumental method, never validated versus the accurate wet chemical techniques. Critique has also been directed to the analytical methodology and sampling error problems (Jaworowski et al., 1992 a; and Segalstad, 1996, for further references), and the fact that the results of the measurements were "edited" (Bacastow et al., 1985); large portions of raw data were rejected, leaving just a small fraction of the raw data subjected to averaging techniques (Pales & Keeling, 1965).

The acknowledgement in the paper by Pales & Keeling (1965) describes how the Mauna Loa CO2 monitoring program started: "The Scripps program to monitor CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans was conceived and initiated by Dr. Roger Revelle who was director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography while the present work was in progress. Revelle foresaw the geochemical implications of the rise in atmospheric CO2 resulting from fossil fuel combustion, and he sought means to ensure that this 'large scale geophysical experiment', as he termed it, would be adequately documented as it occurred. During all stages of the present work Revelle was mentor, consultant, antagonist. He shared with us his broad knowledge of earth science and appreciation for the oceans and atmosphere as they really exist, and he inspired us to keep in sight the objectives which he had originally persuaded us to accept." Is this the description of true, unbiased research?

The annual mean CO2 level as reported from Mauna Loa for 1959 was 315.83 ppmv (15 ppmv lower than the contemporaneous North-European average level), reportedly rising steadily to 351.45 in January 1989 (Keeling et al., 1989), by averaging large daily and seasonal variations (the significance of all their digits not justified), but still within the range of the North European measurements 30-35 years earlier. Hence a rise in global atmospheric CO2 level has not yet been significantly justified by validated methods and sound statistics.

5. Setting the dogma baseline - CO2 measurements in ice cores

In order to show that recent atmospheric CO2 levels have risen due to Man's burning of fossil fuel, it was necessary to show a significant level increase above pre-industrial CO2 levels. We saw how Callendar was able to set a baseline of about 290 ppmv by rejecting values deviating more than 10% from his desired value.

It was believed that snow accumulating on ice sheets would preserve the contemporaneous atmosphere trapped between snowflakes during snowfalls, so that the CO2 content of air inclusions in cores from ice sheets should reveal paleoatmospheric CO2 levels. Jaworowski et al. (1992 b) compiled all such CO2 data available, finding that CO2 levels ranged from 140 to 7,400 ppmv. However, such paleoatmospheric CO2 levels published after 1985 were never reported to be higher than 330 ppmv. Analyses reported in 1982 (Neftel at al., 1982) from the more than 2,000 m deep Byrd ice core (Antarctica), showing unsystematic values from about 190 to 420 ppmv, were falsely "filtered" when the alleged same data showed a rising trend from about 190 ppmv at 35,000 years ago to about 290 ppmv (Callendar's pre-industrial baseline) at 4,000 years ago when re-reported in 1988 (Neftel et al., 1988); shown by Jaworowski et al. (1992 b) in their Fig. 5.

Siegenthaler & Oeschger (1987) were going to make "model calculations that are based on the assumption that the atmospheric [CO2] increase is due to fossil CO2 input" and other human activities. For this modelling they constructed a composite diagram of CO2 level data from Mauna Loa and the Siple (Antarctica) core (see Jaworowski et al., 1992 b, Fig. 10). The data from the Siple core (Neftel et al., 1985) showed the "best" data in terms of a rising CO2 trend. Part of the reason for this was that the core partially melted across the Equator during transportation before it was analysed (Etheridge et al., 1988), but this was neither mentioned by the analysts nor the researchers later using the data (see Jaworowski et al., 1992 b). Rather it was characterized as "the excellent quality of the ice core" and its CO2 concentration data "are assumed to represent the global mean concentration history and used as input data to the model" (Siegenthaler & Oeschger, 1987). The two CO2 level curves were constructed to overlap each other, but they would not match at corresponding age.

In order to make a matching construction between the two age-different non-overlapping curves, it was necessary to make the assumption that the age of the gas inclusion air would have to be 95 years younger than the age of the enclosing ice. But this was not mentioned by the originators Siegenthaler & Oeschger (1987). This artificial construction has been used as a basis for numerous speculative models of changes in the global carbon cycle.

Oeschger et al. (1985) postulated this "air younger than enclosing ice" thesis from an explanation that the upper 70 m of the ice sheets should be open to air circulation until the gas cavities were sealed. Jaworowski et al. (1992 b) rejected this postulate on the basis that air is constantly driven out of the snow, firn, and ice strata during the snow to ice compression and metamorphism, so that ice deeper than about 1,000 m will have lost all original air inclusions. Deep ice cores will fracture when they are taken to the surface, and ambient air will be trapped in new, secondary inclusions. Both argon-39 and krypton-85 isotopes show that large amounts of ambient air are indeed included in the air inclusions in deep ice cores, and air from the inclusions will not be representative of paleoatmospheres (Jaworowski et al., 1992 b).

Contamination from drilling fluids and more than twenty physical-chemical processes occurring in the ice before, during, and after drilling, make ice cores unsuitable for paleoatmospheric work (Jaworowski et al., 1992 b).

The most famous ice core, the Vostok (Antarctica) core, with air inclusions allegedly representing the global paleoatmospheres over the last 160,000 years, show CO2 levels below 200 ppmv for many tens of thousands of years spanning 30,000 to 110,000 years BP (Barnola et al., 1987). "Most geochemists were convinced that changes such as these could not occur", says Sarmiento (1991) about these low alleged paleoatmospheric CO2 levels. Such low atmospheric CO2 levels below approximately 250 ppmv (McKay et al., 1991) would have led to extinction of certain plant species. This has not been recorded by paleobotanists, showing clearly that the ice core CO2 results are not representative of paleoatmospheres (Jaworowski et al., 1992 b), hence the CO2-ice-core-method and its results must be rejected.

More here

Pointless crusades reveal our arrogance

WE'VE had the platitudes drummed into our heads since infancy: "let's all pull together", "every little bit counts", "we can all make a difference". They might evoke warm and fuzzy feelings, but they also aid and abet a widespread Western mind-set that transgresses political persuasion and encourages a dangerously inflated view of our individual and collective efficacy. To be fair, there was a time when these sentiments were somewhat practical. For the generation that lived through the Depression and World War II, tightening the belt and donating your scrap metal to the munitions factory was an important part of civic duty. But applied to the headline grabbing crises of today, they are mostly bunk.

For example, when there are a billion-plus energy-hungry Chinese, a Sydneysider turning his lights off for an hour won't make a dent in the world's power consumption. Even as a symbolic gesture it's pretty pointless. But dare mention this in polite conversation and you are likely to find yourself edging precariously close to the verbal equivalent of a lynching. And not just at the larynxes of hard-core eco-warriors, but at those of a growing army of otherwise balanced people who are determined to believe that their individual actions are meaningful on a planetary scale. If you want to push the conversational envelope, suggest that global warming might be caused not by reducible carbon emissions but by increased solar activity, and your friendly neighbourhood handwringers will leave their calloused digits alone just long enough to prepare the metaphorical noose.

No doubt the latest report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warning as it does of an apocalyptic future should global warming continue at the predicted rates, will only recruit more foot soldiers for the battle against carbon emissions. And you can bet that nobody in this growing contingent will want to hear that their pet cause might be just as futile as the assortment of other "wars" declared against equally amorphous enemies -- be they poverty, drugs, obesity, or terror - which seem to be as unwinnable as they are semantically ridiculous.

Take the war on poverty: just look at the amount of foreign aid that has been pumped into Africa over the past four decades (close to $US600 billion). Yet in the same period there has been zero growth in Africa's per capita income. In other words, while aid may have temporarily alleviated some of the continent's poverty, it is essentially no better off than when the West first started flooding it with cash. So how much more money is it going to take to finally fix Africa? A growing number of high-profile advocates - from U2's Bono to economist Jeffrey Sachs - assert that if we only pumped another $US100 billion ($122 billion) or so a year into Africa, its poverty would become history.

Let's say that this enormous financial commitment was undertaken and fulfilled. How many billions of dollars would end up like the better part of the funds the West has already sunk into Africa: that is, how much would get caught up in bureaucracies, how much would be pilfered by corrupt government officials, and how much would just be flat out wasted through mismanagement? Contra Bono and crew, it seems highly unlikely that this war is going to be won any time soon.

Let's shift our gaze to another bottomless cash hole: the war on drugs. First declared in 1971 by US president Richard Nixon, it has continued to be vigorously fought by every successive American administration. Most other Western nations have also joined the cause. Yet despite swallowing tens of billions of tax dollars every year, the war on drugs has done little to curb illegal drug use. Apparently nobody, least of all the US government, learned anything from its disastrous war on alcohol, aka the prohibition, the only legacy of which was the entrenchment of organised crime in American society. With UN estimates now valuing the world's illicit drug trade at more than $US400 billion a year, the most notable result of the criminalisation of recreational drugs is the empowerment of a whole new class of criminals (maybe Bono should see if the drug cartels would like to donate a few quid to Africa; they can certainly afford it).

And while on the topic of senseless tactics used in poorly thought out wars, who honestly thinks that the war on terror is going to be won by forcibly exporting the model of liberal democracy to fundamentalist and essentially tribal Middle Easterners?

Government blunders aside, grassroots supporters also fight their favourite wars in equally ineffectual ways. From hordes of screaming teenagers at Make Poverty History concerts through to folks plastering "Just Say No to Drugs" stickers on the back of family four-wheel-drives and green-conscious households switching off their lights for an hour, millions of Westerners have convinced themselves that their simple actions are somehow making a meaningful difference to complicated national and global problems.

Western culture is still addicted to crusades, albeit no longer the type driven by faith in an omnipotent God, but, worse still, a type driven by the certainty of our own omnipotence. Today, most Westerners can't help but imagine every serious crisis as being either caused or correctable by human action. Of course, there are times when we must act decisively on an individual as well as a collective level. But as a culture we should learn to think things through rather than just madly rush into the fray. We could do worse that to reflect on influential theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's well known prayer: "God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."


Media Bias: How It Works

Post below lifted from Powerline -- which see for links

Sometimes media bias is blatant and grotesque; it can extend to flat misrepresentations, use of fake documents, etc. Much more often, it is relatively subtle, as reporters push their version of a story in small ways, day after day. Here is a textbook example, via Power Line News.

Yesterday, in an interview with the Associated Press, one of the world's leading weather experts, Dr. William Gray, blasted Al Gore for perpetrating global warming hysteria. Since Dr. Gray is generally recognized as the world's leading expert in the science of forecasting hurricanes, this is news. But let's examine how the AP handled it in the article that resulted from their interview. The AP begins in a straightforward manner:

A top hurricane forecaster called Al Gore "a gross alarmist" Friday for making an Oscar-winning documentary about global warming. "He's one of these guys that preaches the end of the world type of things. I think he's doing a great disservice and he doesn't know what he's talking about," Dr. William Gray said in an interview with The Associated Press at the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, where he delivered the closing speech.

But watch where the story goes from there. First the subtle demeaning of the distinguished Dr. Gray:

Gray, an emeritus professor at the atmospheric science department at Colorado State University, has long railed against the theory that heat-trapping gases generated by human activity are causing the world to warm.

Gray is implicitly depicted as a crank; he "rails." Note that the hysterical and ill-informed Gore never "rails." Further, Gray "has long railed," which suggests that, rather than being a consistent critic of an unproven theory, he is a tiresome eccentric whose views have been heard and discounted. More on this later. The AP continues:

Gray's statements came the same day the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change approved a report that concludes the world will face dire consequences to food and water supplies, along with increased flooding and other dramatic weather events, unless nations adapt to climate change.

As we have noted elsewhere, the U.N.'s IPCC is a political body, not a scientific one, and its findings have been subject to withering criticism. But the AP implies that the U.N's report represents a scientific consensus. Next:

Rather than global warming, Gray believes a recent uptick in strong hurricanes is part of a multi-decade trend of alternating busy and slow periods related to ocean circulation patterns. Contrary to mainstream thinking, Gray believes ocean temperatures are going to drop in the next five to 10 years.

Now it's explicit. The elderly crank who "rails" and disagrees with the U.N. is not part of "mainstream thinking," notwithstanding the fact that, as the AP acknowledges, he is the world's foremost authority on hurricanes. Now the conclusion: in evaluating media bias, it is always important to see who gets the last word. The AP signs off with a scientist who contradicts Gray's views:

Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor who had feuded with Gray over global warming, said Gray has wrongly "dug (his) heels in" even though there is ample evidence that the world is getting hotter.

There you have it. Dr. Gray is a fuddy-duddy who "has long railed" and is outside the "mainstream." He has "dug his heels in" and is so out of date that he tries to dispute the obvious fact that the world is currently getting warmer! The AP is telling us that, however distinguished Gray may be, he can safely be disregarded on this issue.

But wait! Does Dr. Gray really deny the "ample evidence that the world is getting hotter"? Maybe the AP reporter just took Emanuel's word for it. Maybe he was too lazy to do any research. Maybe he deliberately misled his readers. Through the miracle of Google--do AP reporters know about Google?--it took me approximately 30 seconds to find this interview of Dr. Gray, in which he talked about whether the earth is "getting hotter":

Q: ... is global warming behind this increase in hurricanes?

Gray: I am very confident that it's not. I mean we have had global warming. That's not a question. The globe has warmed the last 30 years, and the last 10 years in particular.

The AP is resorting here to the media's constant trick of misrepresenting the position of those who oppose the global warming theorists. The issue is not whether the earth has recently warmed; it has, by around 7/10 of a degree in the last century. The questions are, 1) to what extent, if any, is that warming (or the cooling that also occurs periodically) caused by human activity, 2) how much warming (or cooling) is there likely to be in the future, 3) what will the net effects, good and bad, of such warming or cooling be, and 4) are the benefits, if any, of reducing CO2 emissions by a given amount worth the costs?

The Associated Press, like nearly all mainstream media outlets, runs interference for the global warming hysterics by misrepresenting the nature of the debate, misrepresenting the positions of those who oppose the hysteria, and subtly (or perhaps not so subtly) suggesting that all who question the anthropogenic global warming theorists can safely be dismissed as cranks.

Science vs. Gore on Polar Ice Wastage and Sea Level Change

If Greenland melted or broke up and slipped into the sea - or if half of Greenland and half of Antarctica melted or broke up and slipped into the sea, sea levels worldwide would increase by between 18 and 20 feet. - Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, p. 196.

After making this dramatic statement - which is indeed correct, because of the two important "ifs" it contains - Gore approvingly quotes the United Kingdom's Sir David King as saying "the maps of the world will have to be redrawn," as if the occurrence of this hypothetical scenario was something we may expect to witness sometime in the very near future. And to visually make his point more poignant, Gore goes on to illustrate what would happen to Florida, San Francisco Bay, the Netherlands, Beijing, Shanghai, Calcutta, Bangladesh and Manhattan, suggesting that we should begin preparing now for what he implies is a serious threat commensurate with other major present-day concerns. The perspective provided by real-world science, however, is something far, far different.

In the 16 March 2007 issue of Science, which highlights the current status of polar-region science at the start of the International Polar Year, Shepherd and Wingham (2007) review what is known about sea-level contributions arising from wastage of the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets, concentrating on the results of 14 satellite-based estimates of the imbalances of the polar ice sheets that have been derived since 1998. These studies have been of three major types - standard mass budget analyses, altimetry measurements of ice-sheet volume changes, and measurements of the ice sheets' changing gravitational attraction - and they have yielded a diversity of values, ranging from a sea-level rise equivalent of 1.0 mm/year to a sea-level fall equivalent of 0.15 mm/year.

Of these three approaches, the results of the latter technique, according to Shepherd and Wingham, "are more negative than those provided by mass budget or altimetry." Why? Because, in their words, the gravity-based technique "is new, and [1] a consensus about the measurement errors has yet to emerge, [2] the correction for postglacial rebound is uncertain, [3] contamination from ocean and atmosphere mass changes is possible, and [4] the results depend on the method used to reduce the data." In addition, they say that (5) the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) record is only three years long, and that (6) it is thus particularly sensitive to short-term fluctuations in ice sheet behavior that may not be indicative of what is occurring over a much longer timeframe. Even including these likely-inflated results, however, the two researchers conclude that the current "best estimate" of the contribution of polar ice wastage to global sea level change is a rise of 0.35 millimeters per year, which over a century amounts to only 35 millimeters or - to better compare it to the 20-foot rise described by Gore - a little less than an inch and a half.

Yet even this unimpressive sea level increase may be far too large, for although two of Greenland's largest outlet glaciers doubled their rates of mass loss in less than a year back in 2004, causing many climate alarmists to claim that the Greenland Ice Sheet was responding much more rapidly to global warming than anyone had ever expected, Howat et al. (2007) report - in the very same issue of Science as Shepherd and Wingham - that the two glaciers' rates of mass loss "decreased in 2006 to near the previous rates." And these observations, in their words, "suggest that special care must be taken in how mass-balance estimates are evaluated, particularly when extrapolating into the future, because short-term spikes could yield erroneous long-term trends."

In light of these many observations, we feel it should be obvious to all reasonable people that the former U.S. Vice President has implied much more than is scientifically justified about the future behavior of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets and their impacts on global sea level. Indeed, he has implied vastly more than is justified.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


9 April, 2007


The White House acknowledged yesterday that the "global challenge" posed by climate change "requires global solutions", but once again sought to play down some of the most apocalyptic forecasts. The comments from Sharon Hays and Jim Connaughton, senior White House officials on the environment, represent the latest evidence of a gradual recalibration of President Bush's position towards the issue. For much of his presidency he has cast doubt on scientific evidence that mankind is responsible for global warming and even now he still rejects the imposition of greenhouse gas controls on US industry.

Dr Hays had led the US delegation to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and, it is alleged, watered down draft versions of yesterday's report. Other delegates said that a paragraph stating that North America was "expected to experience severe local economic damage and substantial ecosystem, social and cultural disruption" was removed at the behest of the US.

In a morning conference call, Dr Hays was asked whether she had made changes. "The US and many other nations were very much engaged in making sure that we took our role very seriously in getting a summary document that accurately reflects the underlying science . . . I think we helped craft a report that robustly reflects. . . this underlying, very long technical document," she said.

Dr Hays suggested that "most impacts of climate change will be felt very regionally. . . some parts of the world are more vulnerable than others - for example, Africa, small islands, the Polar regions and so forth". She said it was not true that "all projected impacts are negative" although she did concede that at "particularly higher potential future temperatures, the range of projected impacts becomes increasingly negative".

Mr Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, dismissed a question about the US's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as a "gross mischaracterisation" and claimed that Mr Bush's pledge this year to cut US petrol consumption by 20 per cent over the next ten years was a "mandatory cap" on emissions. The US was in the vanguard, he said, of developing new technologies with "key countries like China and India to try to find low-carbon coal". He referred to possible positive outcomes from climate change on US agricultural yields but added: "On the negative side, the very real prospect of more coastal flooding is something of high concern."



Editorial from "The Times" below

Facts, not emotion, should inform discussion of climate change. Few scientists or rational politicians doubt that global warming is a serious issue that poses long-term dangers to the planet. The scientific evidence that the world's climate has changed and that this change is accelerating is convincing. But it is also beyond doubt that the world is in danger of being held captive by powerful lobby groups that have distorted data, made unjustified extrapolations and attempted to stifle debate on one of the most important issues of our time.

The warnings issued by the Intergov-ernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Brussels yesterday are a collection of worst-case scenarios. The report, approved by 130 governments and endorsed by 2,500 scientists (few of whom probably had any hand in writing it), makes scary reading. It predicts a catastrophic future for millions of humans and other species. Global warning will bring hunger, floods and water shortages. Greenhouse gases will change rainfall patterns, intensify tropical storms, accelerate the melting of Arctic ice and mountain glaciers. Africa faces starvation, coastal cities will be swamped and China will see the rapid advance of the desert.

Some of these dangers may well be real. But many are deliberate exaggerations, as the IPCC's mandate was to highlight the dangers if global temperatures were to rise by up to 4C (7.2F). That assumption is far from proven. But it is enough for some environmental groups to speak of "an apocalyptic future", a "nightmare vision" and a "humanitarian catastrophe".

Every group is entitled to lobby hard for its cause. But to jump on a band-wagon and blame everything on climate change is neither good science nor sound lobbying. China's deserts have been threatening its cities for hundreds of years. Africa cannot be simultaneously threatened by endless droughts and by a rapid increase in malaria. Children are threatened by global warming, but they have also been helped by the economic development that some lobbyists seem to regard as a criminal activity. Tens of millions of children in India and China who would have died 30 years ago are not dying because increased wealth has brought better food, cleaner water and improved access to healthcare.

Companies and individuals have a responsibility to examine their behaviour and reduce their impact on the planet. But that self-examination should be rational and real and not debased by left-leaning fear-mongers, whose social agendas are recipes for impoverishment and hardship.

The real danger of the zealots is that they brook no argument. This does not mean that scientists should take a myopic view of figures that point to danger, such as the rise in carbon dioxide levels to about 380 parts per million, far exceeding the "natural" range for the past 650,000 years. But even to ask what is the natural range is regarded as some sort of heresy, and to ask questions about the precise contribution of anthropogenic influences is to commit a thought crime.

There have already been examples of environmental scientists hounded out of their jobs for daring to question the prevailing orthodoxy. The IPCC summary is inevitably a political narrative, one in which each word and phrase will be endlessly and selectively parsed by the likes of Greenpeace and friends.

The planet deserves the benefit of the doubt. Climate change is serious and must be a political priority. But the arguments must be subject to free and rigorous debate and the facts separated from fanciful predictions - the environment is too important to be bequeathed to the hysterical.


Hot Air is Bad for Us

Rather surprisingly, the article below is by the generally far-Left Alexander Cockburn. I suspect that he knows a bit about science

The current uproar over the posture of the Bush administration on global warming and, most recently, on power plant emissions vividly illustrate the political hypocrisy and opportunism imbuing debates on environmental issues.

Take first global warming. The charge that the current phase of global warming can be attributed to greenhouse gases generated by humans and their livestock is an article of faith among liberals as sturdy as is missile defense among the conservative crowd. The Democrats have seized on the issue of global warming as indicative of President Bush's wilful refusal to confront a global crisis that properly agitates all of America's major allies. Almost daily the major green groups reap rich political capital (and donations) on the issue.

Yet the so-called "anthropogenic origin" of global warming remains entirely non-proven. Back in the spring of this year even the International Panel on Climate Change which now has a huge stake in arguing the "caused-by-humans" thesis admits in its Summary that there could be as one in three chance its multitude of experts are wrong. A subsequent report issued under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences is ambivalent to the point of absurdity. An initial paragraph boldy asserting the "caused-by-humans" line is confounded a few pages later by far more cautious paragraphs admitting that the thesis is speculative and that major uncertainty rules on the role played in climate equations by water vapor and aerosols.

It's nothing new to say the earth is getting warmer. I myself think it is, and has been for a long, long time.On my shelf is an excellent volume put out in 1941 by the US Department of Agriculture called "Climate and Man ", which contains a chapter acknowledging "global warming" (that same phrase) and hailing it as a benign trend that would return the earth to the normalcy in climate it enjoyed several hundred thousand years ago.

Anything more than a glance at the computer models favored by the "caused by humans" crowd will show that the role of carbon dioxide is grotesquely exaggerated. Indeed the models are incapable of handling the role of the prime greenhouse gas, water vapor (clouds etc), which accounts for 25 to 30 times as much heat absorption as carbon dioxide.

Similarly the International Panel on Climate Change admits to a "very low" level of scientific understanding on an "aerosol indirect effect" that the Panel acknowledges is cooling the climate system at a hefty rate. (Aerosols are particles that are so fine they float in air.)

In a particularly elegant paper published last May in Chemical Innovation, a journal of the American Chemical Society, Professor Robert Essenhigh of Ohio State University reminds us that for the last 800,000 years global temperature and carbon dioxide have been moving up and down in lockstep. Since 799,700 of these years were ones preceding any possible human effect on carbon dioxide, this raises the question of whether global warming caused the swings in carbon dioxide or vice versa. Essenhigh argues convincingly that the former is the case and as global temperatures warm a huge reservoir of carbon dioxide absorbed in the oceans is released to the atmosphere. Clearly this is a much potent input than the relatively puny human contribution to global carbon dioxide. Thus natural warming is driving the raised level of carbon dioxide and not the other way round.

But science can barely squeeze in the door with a serious debate about what is prompting global warming. Instead, the Europeans, the greens and the Democrats eagerly seize on the issue as a club with which to beat President Bush and kindred targets of opportunity.

Now take the latest brouhaha over emissions from coal-fired plants. The industry wants what is coyly called "flexibility" in emission standards. EPA chief Christy Whitman is talking about "voluntary incentives", and market-based pollution credits as the proper way to go. Aware of the political pitfalls, the Bush administration has recently been saying that it is not yet quite ready to issue new rules.

Now, there's no uncertainty about the effects of the stuff that comes out of a power plant chimney. There are heavy metals and fine particles that kill people or make them sick. There are also cleaning devices, some of them expensive, that can remove these toxic substances. Ever since the 1970s the energy industry has fought mandatory imposition of such cleaners. If Bush and Whitman enforce this flexibility they will be condemning people to death, as have previous footdragging administrations, both Democratic as well as Republican.

Both political parties have danced to the industry's tunes. It was with the propagandizing of Stephen Breyer (now on the US Supreme Court, then a top aide to Senator Teddy Kennedy), that the trend to pollution credits began. And after the glorious regulatory laxity of the Reagan/Bush years the industry was not seriously discommoded in Clinton Time. Ask the inhabitants of West Virginia and Tennessee whether they think that the coal industry lost clout in those years.

The sad truth of the matter is that many "big picture" environmental theses such as human-caused global warming afford marvelously inviting ways of avoiding specific and mostly difficult political decisions. You can bellow for "global responsibility" without seriously offending powerful corporate interests, some of which (like the nuclear power industry) now have a big stake in promoting global warming. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill loves the "caused by humans" warming thesis and so does the aluminum industry in which he has been a prime player. On the other side we can soon expect to hear that powerful Democrat, Senator Bobby Byrd arguing that the coal industry is in the vanguard of the war on global warming, because the more the more you shade the earth perhaps the more rain you cause. So burn dirty coal and protect the earth by cooling it.

The logic of the caused-by-humans models installs the coal industry as the savior of "global warming"? You want to live by a model that does that?


Global Warming and the Supremes

The Supreme Court attempted to insert itself in the global warming debate this week with its decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, which gives the Federal Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. "This is a landmark decision," former Clinton administration EPA Chief Carol Browner said on PBS' "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer." Unfortunately for the court and Ms. Browner, but fortunately for the rest of us, its decision will have little, if any, practical impact on the ever-intensifying climate controversy.

The controversy began on Oct. 20, 1999, more than a year after the Clinton administration signed the Kyoto Protocol-, when 19 environmental activist groups petitioned the Browner-led EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobile tailpipes. But the global warming-believing Browner failed to act on the petition as of the November 2000 presidential election, possibly presuming that an ensuing Al Gore administration, which she likely would have been part of as a long-time Gore acolyte, would grant the petition and commence a rulemaking.

But when Gore's presidency was thwarted by the December 2000 Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore, the Clinton EPA scrambled in its waning days to launch a regulatory process for regulating carbon dioxide from automobile tailpipes, issuing an eleventh-hour "request for [public] comment," one week before the inauguration of President Bush. Though President Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, his EPA nonetheless continued the regulatory process, ultimately denying the petition in September 2003.

The Bush EPA said that it did not believe it had the authority to regulate greenhouse gases from tailpipes and, even if it did, such regulation would be unwise at the time, and the petitioners, now joined by several states and local governments, including Massachusetts, sued the EPA.

Before we get to the court's decision, it's worth noting that Browner and the Clinton EPA had plenty of opportunity to grant the petition and commence a rulemaking to regulate carbon dioxide from autos. But for whatever reason, the Clinton EPA chose not to take action despite believing, as Browner admitted on "The News Hour," that the EPA already had the legal authority to act. It was particularly ironic that Browner repeatedly and arrogantly slammed the Bush administration for not acting on the petition while sliding over her own failure to act.

Despite the court's dramatic recitation of the dogma of global warming alarmism at the opening of its decision, its ruling will have little impact on the global warming debate simply because the debate has moved way beyond the EPA. In 1999, environmentalists were just about the only special-interest group clamoring for greenhouse gas regulation and such regulation - that is, straightforward, mandatory emissions reductions under the Clean Air Act - is what they wanted given that the Senate wasn't going to ratify Kyoto without the participation of China, India and other developing nations.

Since that time, however, the spectrum of special interests clamoring for global warming regulation has significantly expanded, most importantly to big businesses that are now driving the debate - in Congress and not at the EPA. Through its legislative power, Congress can not only mandate emissions reductions, but more importantly, it can also dole out the global warming pork. Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley want Congress to establish a so-called cap-and-trade system so that they can profit from the trading of greenhouse gas emissions permits. Industrial giants such as Dupont and Alcoa want Congress to give them "carbon credits" - essentially free money - for greenhouse gas emissions reductions already undertaken. Solar and wind energy firms, as well as the ethanol lobby, want Congress to award them subsidies and tax breaks.

All the new climate piggies that want to gorge themselves at the public trough have crowded out the environmentalists, transforming the global warming issue from an ostensibly serious save-the-planet crusade into a financial orgy complete with taxpayer pinata.

Despite that the Supreme Court remanded the environmentalist petition back to the EPA for reconsideration, the reality is that Congress is where the real action (money) is. While EPA action tends to cause businesses pain, Congress tends to dole out pleasure; moreover, given that it took eight years from petition-filing to Supreme Court decision, few in the vast global warming lobby will want to risk another protracted and uncertain EPA rulemaking with its attendant litigation risks. The value of the court decision to the global warming lobby, it appears, is merely psychological, to be used in public relations efforts.

No doubt from now on, global warmers will spin the court's actual decisions - limited to whether Massachusetts had standing to sue the EPA and to whether the EPA complied with the Clean Air Act in rejecting the petition - into spurious declarations that the court ruled that manmade global warming is real and that something must be done about it. But even that is of limited value. Congress is already furiously working away on climate legislation, trying to juggle the various political interests and picking economic winners and losers.

The fate of global warming legislation will depend on the ultimate balance of power between the Congress' designated winners and losers. It's difficult to see how the Supreme Court decision will even slightly matter in this Darwinian legislative free-for-all.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


8 April, 2007


Just like on earth (Antarctica accounts for 91 percent of the total mass of ice on the Earth): Suggesting that on both planets icecap formation is the product of an interaction between solar influence and the similar tilts of the two planets' rotational axes. Journal abstract follows:

Subsurface Radar Sounding of the South Polar Layered Deposits of Mars

By Jeffrey J. Plaut et al.

The ice-rich south polar layered deposits of Mars were probed with the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding on the Mars Express orbiter. The radar signals penetrate deep into the deposits (more than 3.7 kilometers). For most of the area, a reflection is detected at a time delay that is consistent with an interface between the deposits and the substrate. The reflected power from this interface indicates minimal attenuation of the signal, suggesting a composition of nearly pure water ice. Maps were generated of the topography of the basal interface and the thickness of the layered deposits. A set of buried depressions is seen within 300 kilometers of the pole. The thickness map shows an asymmetric distribution of the deposits and regions of anomalous thickness. The total volume is estimated to be 1.6 x 106 cubic kilometers, which is equivalent to a global water layer approximately 11 meters thick.



Climate change will cause severe droughts and food shortages for billions of people unless governments act now, UN experts have agreed. An agreement was reached after an all-night session in Brussels during which key sections were deleted from a draft report. Scientists angrily confronted government negotiators who they feared were watering down their findings. "It has been a complex exercise," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Several scientists objected to the editing of the final draft by government negotiators but in the end agreed to compromises. Five days of negotiations came to an end when the delegates removed parts of a key chart highlighting devastating effects of climate change that come about with every rise of one degree Celsius. There were also disagreements over the level of scientific reliability attached to key statements. But in the end there was little doubt about the science, which was based on 29,000 sets of data, much of it collected in the past five years. The United States, China and Saudi Arabia raised many of the objections to the phrasing, often seeking to tone down the certainty of some of the more dire projections.

The final IPCC report is the clearest and most comprehensive scientific statement to date on the impact of global warming, mainly caused by man-induced carbon dioxide pollution. It said up to 30 per cent of the Earth's species face an increased risk of vanishing if global temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius above the average in the 1980s and '90s. Areas that now suffer a shortage of rain will become even drier, adding to the risks of hunger and disease, it said. The world will face heightened threats of flooding, severe storms and the erosion of coastlines.

Negotiators pored over a 21-page draft summary which was intended as a policy guide for governments. The summary pares down the full 1,500-page scientific assessment of the evidence of climate change so far and the impact it will have on the Earth's most vulnerable people and ecosystems. Though weakened by the deletion of some elements, the final report "will send a very, very clear signal" to governments, said Yvo de Boer, the UN's leading climate change official.

The summary will be presented to the G8 summit of the world's richest nations in June, when the European Union is expected to renew appeals to US President George W Bush to join in international efforts to control emissions of fossil fuels. This year's series of reports by the IPCC are the first in six years from the prestigious body of some 2,500 scientists, formed in 1988.


An Australian reaction to the latest IPCC "Wisdom"

From the political editor of "The Sydney Morning Herald" -- who gives SOME balance to his coverage

The first thing that strikes you on reading the latest consensus report from the world's climate scientists about the effect of global warming is that it is like the plot of an Armageddon movie. "The climate of the 21st century is virtually certain to be warmer with changes in extreme events," says the chapter on the effects on Australia and New Zealand, due to be published tonight in Brussels.

"Heatwaves and fires are virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency (high confidence)", with the parenthetic notation meaning that the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change attach a likelihood of greater than 90 per cent to this forecast. "Floods, landslides, droughts and storm surges are very likely to become more frequent and intense, and snow and frost are likely to become less frequent (high confidence)," says the final draft of the document that the panel provided to the institutions that set it up, the world's governments. "Ongoing water security problems are very likely to increase by 2030 in southern and eastern Australia and parts of NZ that are distant from major rivers (high confidence). "Ongoing coastal development is very likely to exacerbate risk to lives and property from sea-level rise and storms. Sea level is virtually certain to rise (high confidence)."

So, for example, by 2050 a rise of 20 centimetres in the sea level along the Sydney coast combined with a big, once-in-50-year storm would bring the sea 110 metres further inland at Collaroy and Narrabeen beaches, a permanent loss of coast, the scientists project. Then there is the damage to major infrastructure from extreme weather by 2030: "Risks include failure of flood plain protection and urban drainage-sewage, increased storm and fire damage, and more heatwaves causing more deaths and more blackouts (high confidence)." Plus there is the expected damage to forestry and farming, the extinction of hundreds of species, and the destruction of unique environmental assets such as the Kakadu wetlands and the Great Barrier Reef.

And all this from a projected rise in average temperature of between 0.3 degrees and 3.4 degrees in the zone from Australia's coast to 800 kilometres inland, a warming that the scientists predict will happen by 2050 on present trends. The warming in Australia so far, since 1910, has been between 0.6 and 1.2 degrees, with most of the rise since 1950. The reported rise in the sea level is seven centimetres.

The report, five years in the making, is the state of knowledge of the world's climate scientists. The chapter on Australia and New Zealand bears the names of 22 authors. The panel operates in three working groups. The report of the first, on the physical science, went public in February. Tonight's is the work of the second, on impacts. The third, to be published next month, is on how to mitigate its effects.

The next thing that strikes you about the report is the high degree of uncertainty to which the authors readily confess. Climate change, the scientists write, "is taken to be due to both natural variability and human activities. The relative proportions are unknown unless otherwise stated". In Australia's case, "it is very likely that increases in greenhouse gases have significantly contributed to the warming since 1950". This wording - "very likely" and "significantly contributed" - is a useful reminder that we are still in the realm of hypothesis in trying to assess whether it is human activity that is responsible for global warming.

Scepticism in science, indeed in every realm of human affairs, is a healthy attitude. The very highest accolade, the Nobel prize, has been awarded for acclaimed breakthroughs that are later discredited, like the 1949 decision to give the Portuguese neurologist Egas Moniz the prize for inventing the lobotomy as a cure for schizophrenia.

A leading Australian sceptic of man-made climate change is Ian Plimer, a professor of mining geology at the University of Adelaide. The fact that the Earth's atmospheric temperature is rising at the same time as humans emit more greenhouse gases is a correlation, and not a causation, he points out: "The Earth's temperature rose by 0.7 per cent in the 20th century, but there was also an increase in piracy. Does that mean piracy causes global warming?"

If Al Gore calls climate change an inconvenient truth, Plimer asks unfashionable questions. "There is new work emerging even in the last few weeks that shows we can have a very close correlation between the temperatures of the Earth and supernova and solar radiation. What if global warming has nothing to do with human activity? "What happens if the astronomers are right, and the world is actually entering a cooling period?" Plimer thinks the climate scientists are in the grip of groupthink and that other branches of science can lend perspective: "We geologists have seen climate change for 4500 million years. Tell us something new."

He dismissed the recent visit to Australia by Sir Nicholas Stern, an adviser to the British Treasury and author of the Stern report on climate change. Stern proposed that Australia cut its carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, and by 60 per cent by 2050, to avert catastrophic global warming. Plimer's response: "Stern bases his argument on science, but he hasn't validated it. So from day one, I don't even let him out of the barrier."

What if the hypothesis is wrong? What if, like the Y2K hypothesis, all the experts turn out to be embarrassingly off the mark? What if Stern is wrong? He has proposed that the world spend 1 per cent of annual economic output for the next few decades to move from a high-carbon to a low-carbon economy. What if this money, about $US400 billion a year, is spent on the basis of a flawed theory?

It was a question Stern was quite happy to answer during his visit to Sydney. "What if I'm wrong?" he posited in an interview with the Herald. "Well, suppose this science is a big hoax, and we believe it and we invest 1 per cent of GDP per annum. What are we going to get? "We'll get a bunch of new technologies, some of which will turn out to be really super - say the price of solar energy really drops - this is the kind of thing we might get out of it. "We'd get much less air pollution. You'll get cleaner fuels for developing countries, which will make cooking much safer. Air pollution in huts is the second most important cause of death in developing countries, after water shortages from lack of infrastructure. "So you get a lot of collateral benefit. And you've spent 1 per cent of GDP for a while till you find out."

Then he turned the proposition around: "What if you take the much, much more likely hypothesis that the vast majority of the world's scientists are right. And you bet the other way. You say: 'I don't believe all this stuff, I'm going to wait and see.' "What if that bet's wrong? You end up in a position that's extremely hard to extricate yourself. The flow of carbon emissions building up into the stock is like a ratcheting effect. You can't turn the clock back. The basic economics of risk point very strongly to action."

The annual sales of the global insurance industry, excluding life insurance, amount to 3.5 per cent of global GDP, according to McKinsey's management consultants. If the world is prepared to pay the equivalent of 3.5 per cent of its total annual output to guard against the possibility of all sorts of risks that, in any one year for any one client, are quite remote, such as fire and theft, then the prospect of paying a 1 per cent premium to protect against a catastrophic global event seems entirely reasonable.

Australia's political leaders have abandoned scepticism on climate change. Both the Coalition and Labor are now pledged to overcoming climate change. They are going about it in very different ways. Kevin Rudd has embraced the targets for big cuts to Australia's carbon emissions, but refuses to say how these targets would operate. Will they be compulsory? How would they be enforced? He won't say. So Labor's policy is feelgood but, without a great deal more detail, it is phoney.

John Howard rejects any targets, any targets whatsoever, for cutting emissions. He offers a few specific initiatives but they are ad hoc, without any overall pattern or plan. Howard's biggest single environmental initiative to date is his $10 billion plan to revive the Murray-Darling River system, and it is a very good plan. But it seeks to fix a problem of water flow without addressing the climate that produces the water. It addresses a symptom, not a cause. Rudd accuses Howard of "not getting it". Howard accuses Rudd of seeking to destroy the jobs of Australian coalminers in a rush of green fundamentalism.

The good news is that it is an election year and problems, such as this one, that have been long ignored in Australia are getting a lot of attention. The bad news is that it's an election year, a feverish time when, as the Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, told his department recently: "There is a greater than usual risk of the development of policy proposals that are, frankly, bad." The overheating of the political climate in this election year is one form of climate change for which there is 100 per cent certainty.


Earth's Crazy Climate

Ancient rocks from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean suggest dramatic climate changes during the dinosaur-dominated Mesozoic Era, a time once thought to have been monotonously hot and humid. In this month's Geology, scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research present new evidence that ocean surface temperatures varied as much as 6 degrees Celsius (about 11 degrees Fahrenheit) during the Aptian Epoch of the Cretaceous Period 120 million years ago.

The finding is relevant to the ongoing climate change discussion, IUB geologist Simon Brassell says, because it portrays an ancient Earth whose temperatures shifted erratically due to changes in carbon cycling and did so without human input. "Combined with data from the Atlantic, it appears clear that climate changes were taking place on a global scale during this time period," said Brassell, who led the study.

A previous study from an Atlantic Ocean site had suggested a changeable climate around the same time period. But it was not known whether the Atlantic data indicated regional climate change unique to the area or something grander. "We had virtually no data from the middle of the largest ocean at that time period," Brassell said. "The data we collected suggest significant global fluctuations in temperature."

As part of the National Science Foundation's Ocean Drilling Project, the geoscientists voyaged in 2001 to Shatsky Rise, a study site 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) east of Japan and 3,100 meters below the ocean surface. Shatsky Rise is known to have formed at the end of the Jurassic Period immediately prior to the beginning of the Cretaceous, the last period of the Mesozoic Era.

The scientists' vessel, the JOIDES Resolution, is specially outfitted with a drill that can be lowered to the sea floor for the collection of rock samples. The drill bit was driven 566 meters into Shatsky Rise. Rocks freed by the drill were transported directly to the surface for analysis. The rocks corresponding to early Aptian time were extremely rich in organic material. By analyzing the carbon and nitrogen content of the samples, the geochemists found evidence for changes in carbon cycling and in nitrogen fixation by ocean biological communities associated with changing climate. A special analysis method targeting certain complex carbon-containing molecules provided values for a measurement called TEX86 that revealed mean temperature variations between 30 deg C (86 deg F) and 36 deg C (97 deg F) with two prominent cooling episodes of approximately 4 deg C (7 deg F) in tropical surface temperatures during the early Aptian. By comparison, today's tropical sea surface temperatures typically lie between 29 and 30 deg C.

Brassell says that findings of a changeable climate during the Cretaceous, a time period dominated by dinosaurs and noted for the spread of flowering plants, could influence the current climate change debate. "One of the key challenges for us is trying to predict climate change," Brassell said. "If there are big, inherent fluctuations in the system, as paleoclimate studies are showing, it could make determining Earth's climatic future even harder than it is. We're learning our climate, throughout time, has been a wild beast."


Snowball Earth Culprit Found?

Threat of global cooling!

For several years geologists have been gathering evidence indicating that Earth has gone into a deep freeze on several occasions, with ice covering even the equator and with potentially devastating consequences for life. The theory, known as "Snowball Earth," has been lacking a good explanation for what triggered the global glaciations.

Now, the California Institute of Technology research group that originated the Snowball Earth theory has proposed that the culprit for the earliest and most severe episode may have been lowly bacteria that, by releasing oxygen, destroyed a key gas keeping the planet warm.

In the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Caltech graduate student Robert Kopp and his supervising professor, Joe Kirschvink, along with alumnus Isaac Hilburn (now a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and graduate student Cody Nash, argue that cyanobacteria (or blue-green algae) suddenly evolved the ability to break water and release oxygen about 2.3 billion years ago. Oxygen destroyed the greenhouse gas methane that was then abundant in the atmosphere, throwing the global climate completely out of kilter.

Though the younger sun was only about 85 percent as bright as it is now, average temperatures were comparable to those of today. This state of affairs, many researchers believe, was due to the abundance of methane, known commercially as natural gas. Just as they do in kitchen ranges, methane and oxygen in the atmosphere make an unstable combination; in nature they react in a matter of years to produce carbon dioxide and water. Though carbon dioxide is also a greenhouse gas, methane is dozens of times more so.

The problem began when cyanobacteria evolved into the first organisms able to use water in photosynthesis, releasing oxygen into the environment as a waste product. More primitive bacteria depend upon soluble iron or sulfides for use in photosynthesis; the switch to water allowed them to grow almost everywhere that had light and nutrients. Many experts think this happened early in Earth history, between 3.8 and 2.7 billion years ago, in which case some process must have kept the cyanobacteria from destroying the methane greenhouse for hundreds of millions of years. The Caltech researchers, however, find no hard evidence in the rocks to show that the switch to water for photosynthesis occurred prior to 2.3 billion years ago, which is about when the Paleoproterozoic Snowball Earth was triggered.

For cyanobacteria to trigger the rapid onset of a Snowball Earth, they must have had an ample supply of key nutrients like phosphorous and iron. Nutrient availability is why cyanobacterial blooms occur today in regions with heavy agricultural runoff.

Fortunately for the bacteria, Earth 2.3 billion years ago had already entered a moderately cold period, reflected in glacially formed rocks in Canada. Measurements of the magnetization of these Canadian rocks, which the Caltech group published earlier this year, indicate that the glaciers that formed them may have been at middle latitudes, just like the glaciers of the last ice age.

The action of the glaciers, grinding continental material into powder and carrying it into the oceans, would have made the oceans rich in nutrients. Once cyanobacteria evolved this new oxygen-releasing ability, they could feast on this cornucopia, turning an ordinary glaciation into a global one. "Their greater range should have allowed the cyanobacteria to come to dominate life on Earth quickly and start releasing large amounts of oxygen," Kopp says.

This was bad for the climate because the oxygen destabilized the methane greenhouse. Kopp and Kirschvink's model shows that the greenhouse may have been destroyed in as little as 100,000 years, but almost certainly was eliminated within several million years of the cyanobacteria's evolution into an oxygen-generating organism. Without the methane greenhouse, global temperatures plummeted to -50 degrees Celsius.

The planet went into a glacial period so cold that even equatorial oceans were covered with a mile-thick layer of ice. The vast majority of living organisms died, and those that survived, either underground or at hydrothermal vents and springs, were probably forced into bare subsistence. If correct, the authors note, then an evolutionary accident triggered the world's worst climate disaster.

However, in evolving to cope with the new influx of oxygen, many survivors gained the ability to breathe it. This metabolic process was capable of releasing much energy and eventually allowing the evolution of all higher forms of life.

Kirschvink and his lab have earlier shown a mechanism by which Earth could have gotten out of Snowball Earth. After some tens of millions of years, carbon dioxide would build up to the point that another greenhouse took place. In fact, the global temperature probably bounced back to +50 degrees Celsius, and the deep-sea vents that provided a refuge for living organisms also had steadily released various trace metals and nutrients. So not only did life return after the ice layers melted, but it did so with a magnificent bloom. "It was a close call to a planetary destruction," says Kirschvink. "If Earth had been a bit further from the sun, the temperature at the poles could have dropped enough to freeze the carbon dioxide into dry ice, robbing us of this greenhouse escape from Snowball Earth."

Of course, 2.3 billion years is a very long time ago. But the episode points to a grim reality for the human race if conditions ever resulted in another Snowball Earth. We who are living today will never see it, but Kirschvink says that an even worse Snowball Earth could occur if the conditions were again right.

"We could still go into Snowball if we goof up the environment badly enough," he says. "We haven't had a Snowball in the past 630 million years, and because the sun is warmer now it may be harder to get into the right condition. But if it ever happens, all life on Earth would likely be destroyed. We could probably get out only by becoming a runaway greenhouse planet like Venus."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


7 April, 2007


Now that the Supreme Court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from cars, which of these scenarios is most likely? a) The E.P.A.'s scientists will determine the proper level of emissions, and the agency will promptly order carmakers to comply. b) The scientists' recommendations will be ignored by the Bush administration, but promptly adopted by the next president. c) No matter who is elected, no matter what E.P.A.'s scientists recommend, nothing will happen anytime soon.

If history is any guide, the right answer is c. Ordering the E.P.A. to address global warming may be a legal victory for environment groups, but it will probably just slow progress against global warming. The Environmental Procrastination Agency, as I like to call it, has a hard enough time taking action against routine pollutants. It's in even worse position to deal with something as complicated as carbon dioxide, because the agency was founded on a fantasy: that scientific experts can transcend both politics and economics.

This was a convenient fantasy for members of Congress who wanted to duck tough decisions. They grandly ordered the E.P.A. to clean up the environment no matter what the cost. Its experts were to be above politics, and they were even forbidden to consider economic tradeoffs: they were supposed to make a scientific determination of safety and then order everyone to comply. It sounded wonderful - until the experts actually tried ordering anything that was unpopular or expensive. Then they found themselves tied up in endless lawsuits and behind-the-scenes political maneuvering.

It took the agency 15 years to deal with pollution from leaded gasoline, which was a trivially simple problem compared with global warming. It's a lot easier to estimate the health consequences of lead pollution than to scientifically determine a "safe" level of carbon dioxide. Yes, reducing emissions means lower risks from climate change, but climate scientists don't have any special expertise in figuring out how to make reductions. It takes economists to estimate the tradeoffs - and politicians to work out the compromises.

My favorite guide to the E.P.A. is David Schoenbrod, who sued to force the E.P.A. to take lead out of gasoline in the 1970s, when he was a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. The environmentalists won in court. But as Mr. Schoenbrod watched the agency dither, through both Republican and Democratic administrations, he became convinced that the lawsuit hadn't really been a victory - that lawmakers at the state and federal levels would have been forced to act sooner if the problem hadn't been delegated to the E.P.A.

In his 2005 book, "Saving Our Environment from Washington," he proposes putting pressure on politicans by turning the E.P.A. from a regulatory agency into one that offers technical guidance to Congress and state legislatures. Mr. Schoenbrod, now a professor at New York Law School, is not celebrating the latest "victory" by environmentalists. "The Supreme Court was correct in deciding that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate all pollutants, including global warming gases," he says. "What makes no sense is the premise of the Clean Air Act that Congress can solve all pollution problems by handing them over to the EPA. History shows that is wrong." So what does he expect? Lots of litigation and little action. "Hard choices will have to be made and the agency lacks the legitimacy to make them," he says, "so the tendency will be to delay or make symbolic choices for as long as possible."



President Bush, acknowledging that humans are at least partly responsible for global warming, said Tuesday that he took "very seriously" the Supreme Court's ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles as pollution. However, the president attached two conditions that appeared likely to retard EPA regulation of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat at the Earth's surface: He said that any regulatory program should not slow economic growth, nor should its benefits to the atmosphere be offset by mounting emissions from China, India and other growing economies.

Bush's stance sets up a potential conflict with the Democratic-controlled Congress, which wants stricter regulation of greenhouse gases. "The president still doesn't get it," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled on Monday that the EPA was required by law to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants. The administration, siding with automakers, had argued that carbon dioxide was not a pollutant as defined by the Clean Air Act, but the court held that it was merely a different kind of pollutant.

Asked about the decision during a Rose Garden news conference, Bush said, "I have said that it is a serious problem. I recognize that man is contributing greenhouse gases." But solving the problem, he said, must not cut into economic growth. "It's going to require new technologies, which tend to be expensive, and it's easier to afford expensive technologies if you're prosperous," he said. Bush also said China and India must join the international effort to combat global warming. "Unless there is an accord with China," he said, "China will produce greenhouse gases that will offset anything we do in a brief period of time."

Boxer, chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement, jumped on that remark. "I find it offensive that the president is still using China as an excuse to do nothing when the U.S. has always been a leader in environmental protection," she said. Boxer said she would summon EPA officials before her committee in April to explain how they planned to follow the Supreme Court ruling. Her goal, she said, was passage of "the strongest possible global warming legislation."

EPA spokesmen said Tuesday that it was too early to respond to the court decision. Two House committees have also expressed an interest in global warming legislation. A subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, whose chairman is Rep. John D. Dingell, a Democrat whose Michigan district is home to much of the auto industry, has already held 10 hearings on the subject. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is also interested in the issue, but he has not yet formulated an action plan.

The auto industry, the principal target of the Supreme Court ruling, responded guardedly to the decision and Bush's response to it. Dave McCurdy, chairman and chief executive officer of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement that "there needs to be a national, federal, economy-wide approach to addressing greenhouse gases. This decision says that the [EPA] will be part of this process." The alliance emphasized the importance of building more fuel-efficient cars because vehicles that use less fuel produce less carbon dioxide.



Nine House Republicans Wednesday called for a probe of a United Nations agency that monitors climate change, citing reports of mismanagement. Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by the panel's ranking Republican, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), asked the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) to launch an inquiry into the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). An audit has shown that a WMO official misappropriated $3 million to finance a "money-for-votes scheme" before fleeing.

Noting that the U.S. has given more than $115 million to the agency, the Republican lawmakers say GAO should examine whether any part of the American contribution was among the misappropriated funds. In addition, the GOP lawmakers called on the congressional watchdog to conduct a more thorough investigation of WMO - an audit of the audit, in effect - noting that a U.N. auditor looking into the situation had "reportedly been dismissed," alleging she was prevented from fully examining the agency.



Psychologists have just discovered that people believe what they want to believe. That certainly explains Warmism. That psychologists themselves do it is however an undoubted truth. Excerpt from the latest paper below:


We propose a model of motivated skepticism that helps explain when and why citizens are biased-information processors. Two experimental studies explore how citizens evaluate arguments about affirmative action and gun control, finding strong evidence of a prior attitude effect such that attitudinally congruent arguments are evaluated as stronger than attitudinally incongruent arguments. When reading pro and con arguments, participants (Ps) counterargue the contrary arguments and uncritically accept supporting arguments, evidence of a disconfirmation bias. We also find a confirmation bias-the seeking out of confirmatory evidence-when Ps are free to self-select the source of the arguments they read. Both the confirmation and disconfirmation biases lead to attitude polarization-the strengthening of t2 over t1 attitudes-especially among those with the strongest priors and highest levels of political sophistication. We conclude with a discussion of the normative implications of these findings for rational behavior in a democracy.


Physicists do it (Glanz, 2000). Psychologists do it (Kruglanski & Webster, 1996). Even political scientists do it (cites withheld to protect the guilty among us). Research findings confirming a hypothesis are accepted more or less at face value, but when confronted with contrary evidence, we become "motivated skeptics" (Kunda, 1990), mulling over possible reasons for the "failure", picking apart possible flaws in the study, recoding variables, and only when all the counter arguing fails do we rethink our beliefs.

Whether this systematic bias in how we deal with evidence is rational or not is debatable, the philosopher of science (e.g., Popper) saying "no", the good Reverend Bayes saying "yes". One negative consequence of this practice is that bad theories and weak hypotheses, like prejudices, persist longer then they should. But what about ordinary citizens? Politics is contentious (Iyengar & Kinder, 1987; Newman, Just, & Krigler, 1992). In the marketplace of ideas, citizens are confronted daily with arguments designed to either bolster their opinions or challenge their prior beliefs and attitudes (Gamson, 1992). To the extent that ordinary citizens act similarly to scientists the consequences would be similar -- hanging on to one's beliefs and attitudes longer and stronger than warranted.

It would be foolish to push this analogy too hard since scientific practice has such built-in safeguards as peer review and double-blind experiments to prevent bad ideas from driving the good ones out of the marketplace; albeit there certainly are fewer and weaker controls to protect ordinary folks from themselves when they think and reason. Ideally, one's prior beliefs and attitudes - whether scientific or social - should "anchor" the evaluation of new information and then, depending on how credible is some piece of evidence, impressions should be adjusted upward or downward (Anderson, 1981). The "simple" Bayesian updating rule would be to increment the overall evaluation if the evidence is positive, and decrement the original belief or attitude if the evidence is contrary. Assuming one has established an initial belief (attitude or hypothesis), normative models of human decision-making imply or posit a two-step updating process, beginning with the collection of belief-relevant evidence, followed by the integration of new information with the prior to produce an updated judgment. Critically important in such normative models is the requirement that the collection and integration of new information be kept independent of one's prior judgment (for a useful discussion of this normative requirement in Bayesian theory, see Evans & Over, 1996).

All well and good, and normatively right, but empirically off base if demonstrations in psychology (Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979) and behavioral decision theory (Baron, 1994) are to be believed. These studies show repeatedly that one's priors unduly influence what evidence is sought out and how new, particularly contrary, evidence is comprehended, evaluated, and weighted. The basic finding across domains, issues, and situations is that people are "motivated skeptics;" they are prone to accept at face value evidence that is congruent with their prior beliefs but apt to denigrate and hyper-critically evaluate evidence contrary to their priors (Ditto & Lopez, 1992; Koehler, 1993). The result is anchoring with insufficient adjustment to contrary information.

In this paper we report the results of two experiments showing that citizens are prone to overly accommodate supportive evidence while dismissing out of hand evidence that challenges their prior attitudes. On reading a balanced set of pro and con arguments about affirmative action or gun control, we find that rather than moderating or simply maintaining their original attitudes, citizens - especially those who feel the strongest about the issue and are the most sophisticated - strengthen their attitudes in ways not warranted by the evidence.

(The Doi (permanent) address for the full article above is here. See also here)

Global warming "could" destroy Great Barrier Reef

Prophecies of doom for Australia's great coral reef were common long before global warming was thought of. Declines used to be blamed on fertilizer runoff from farms. The truth is that, as a huge living system, it undergoes constant change for reasons people can only guess at. It should be noted however that the reef is at its most luxuriant in WARM waters and dies out as it stretches into cooler waters. Clearly, reef-lovers should HOPE for global warming as warmth is one thing that is known to be good for it. You would never guess any of that from the article below, however -- which is just the usual scare story from the usual suspects:

THE world's most spectacular natural wonders, ranging from Australia's Great Barrier Reef to the Amazon River basin, are threatened by the ravages of global warming, the green group WWF said today. It singled out 10 micro-regions across the globe where climate change has already taken a toll, warning that these delicately-balanced ecosystems are, in many cases, in danger of disappearing outright.

"While adaptation to changing climate can save some, only drastic action by governments to reduce emissions" of greenhouse gases can stop the "complete destruction" of others, said WWF scientist Lara Hansen. Up to 60 per cent of the Amazon forest, home to nearly a third of the planet's land species, could become semi-arid savanna if average global temperatures rise 2-3C above 1990 levels, the WWF said. It is very likely that some species will become extinct even before they are identified.

The WWF report comes a day before the world's top climate scientists in Brussels release a large report, the second of three, predicting dire consequences from global warming, especially for poor nations and species diversity. "There is high confidence that climate change will result in extinction of many species and reduction in the diversity of ecosystems," says the 1400-page final draft report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's first report, released in February, forecast temperatures would rise between 1.8-4C by century's end. A final volume, due to be released in early May, will discuss how warming can be mitigated.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef along with other reef ecosystems - which take up only a quarter of a per cent of ocean floor surfaces but sustain 25 per cent of all marine life - are rapidly declining, the WWF warned. The IPCC report says that an increase of only 2C will result in the bleaching of the world's reefs, with catastrophic consequences for species diversity and local economies that depend on them....



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


6 April, 2007

The children of the light love the light and the children of the darkness love the darkness (John 3: 19-20)

Almost by itself, the withholding of their raw data by climate "scientists" tells us that they are not scientists. Scientific co-operation in such matters should normally be absolute and any persistent withholding will normally draw a rebuke in the literature (e.g. here) and make the "findings" suspect. What have the Warmist "scientists" got to fear? From the Mann "hockeystick" debacle I think we KNOW what they have to fear. That's why they fight tooth and nail to keep their "data" secret. The email below from D.J. Keenan [] of details how hard it can be to prise examinable data from Warmists:

One of the big problems in global warming studies, and in science generally, is that research data is often not available to outsiders. Instead, researchers tend to hoard the data for themselves and their friends (who are reluctant to be critical).

Last month, Steve McIntyre (of Hockey Stick fame) began a battle against this by filing an FOI Act request for data used in an important global warming study. The study was done by Phil Jones (a leading researcher), at the University of East Anglia. McIntyre's request was initially refused in toto by the university. McIntyre then filed an appeal with the university.

Separately, I filed a request for a portion of the same data. At first, the university said they were going to process my request in they same way that they had processed McIntyre's, which I believe to be improper. So I drafted a letter of complaint to the UK Information Commissioner's Office, sent the draft to the university, and asked them to let me know if they believed the letter to be inaccurate.

Yesterday, April 3rd, McIntyre and I received notices that the university would supply the information that we requested. More details are posted on McIntyre's blog:

This could change the way that research is conducted in the UK. The result should be both (i) higher quality, as researchers realize that their analyses will be scrutinized far more closely than has been done in the past, and (ii) much improved cross-fertilization of science. In other words, the potential change for UK science is truly huge.

For what it's worth, I have had some small involvement with one other FOI request for scientific data. This was with the infamous "Gillberg affair" in Sweden. There the researchers fought the request hard and, before the data could be examined, they destroyed it: 100,000 pages covering 15 years of research was lost.

[The Gillberg affair concerned controversial claims made by a prominent Swedish professor. He absolutely refused to let others look at the data which he claimed supported his contentions. He was successfully prosecuted in Sweden for his actions. He was just another puffed-up crook out to make a name for himself by fraud. Some of the Warmists would appear to be near relatives of his -- JR]

Mars warming heats up climate change debate

CLIMATE change sceptics have seized on news that Mars is heating up to back their claim that humans are not causing Earthly global warming. The research comes from US planetary scientists, who suggest the Red Planet warmed by about 0.65C from the 1970s to the 1990s, similar to Earth's 0.6C average temperature rise during the 20th Century.

"It could be coincidental or it might be the needle in the haystack," said climatologist William Kininmonth, former head of the National Climate Centre in Melbourne. "It's an interesting observation, as it's the same time period as Earth's temperature has been warming." Mr Kininmonth said the research, published in the journal Nature, showed there was enough natural climate variability to account for global warming on Earth.

Not so, claimed Neville Nicholls, a climate scientist at Monash University in Melbourne. "The paper is interesting but it hasn't got anything to do with the question of human impact on global warming on Earth," Dr Nicholls said. "It's not an excuse to argue that humans are not causing global warming on Earth." [But he does not say why!]

The research was done by a team led by Lori Fenton of the NASA Ames Research Centre at Moffett Field, California. They used a computer model based on those devised to study global warming on Earth, adding Martian features such as a cold, airless surface and a shifting south polar ice cap while subtracting Earth's oceans and atmosphere. Dr Fenton's group found that annual variation in the solar radiation reflected from the surface of Mars - its "albedo" - contributed to the warming by causing more blowing dust. Over the past 30 years the dust swept clean large swaths of the planet's surface, reducing reflected radiation. The result was a "positive feedback loop" between dust, wind, albedo and temperature.

"It's a nice piece of work," said UNSW climate scientist Andy Pitman. "But there are no implications for Earth." Professor Pitman was lead author of the climate modelling section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in February. [Aha!] Professor Pitman disputed Associate Professor Franks' claim that changes in Earth's albedo had a bigger influence on climate than greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. "Albedo is included in climate models," Professor Pitman said. "It can have a local effect but cannot explain the observed warming record." The Nature paper comes on the eve of the second report from the fourth IPCC review, set to be released tomorrow night.


Why won't Al Gore debate?

Post lifted from Heartland -- which see for links

In recent months, former vice president Al Gore has become the world's most recognized advocate of the theory that human greenhouse gas emissions are altering the world's climate and could cause catastrophic damage if not arrested and reduced. He is getting hundreds of millions of dollars in free publicity from the press and from environmental groups that echo his warning. But Al Gore refuses to debate those who say global warming is not a crisis.

Maybe it's because climate alarmists tend to lose when they debate climate realists. Or because most scientists do not support climate alarmism. Lord Monckton of Brenchley, a former advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is the latest to challenge Gore to debate. He issued the following challenge on March 14:

The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley presents his compliments to Vice-President Albert Gore and by these presents challenges the said former Vice-President to a head-to-head, internationally-televised debate upon the question "That our effect on climate is not dangerous," to be held in the Library of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History at a date of the Vice-President's choosing.

Forasmuch as it is His Lordship who now flings down the gauntlet to the Vice-President, it shall be the Vice-President's prerogative and right to choose his weapons by specifying the form of the Great Debate. May the Truth win! Magna est veritas, et praevalet.

Lord Monckton is eminently qualified to debate Gore-see here and here for his recent writing on global warming-and Gore thought highly enough of him to respond to one of his essays. Like Gore, Lord Monckton is a prominent figure in the global warming debate who is not a scientist or professional economist. He would seem to be an appropriate and worthy opponent. But Gore refuses to debate Lord Monckton, just as he refuses to debate a growing list of prominent scientists, economists, novelists, and policy experts.

If the scientific debate over global warming is over, as Gore and other climate alarmists so often claim, why is Al Gore afraid to debate? Is it because there is no scientific consensus on the causes or effects of global warming? Is it because a growing number of experts believe we should invest in adapting to global warming-whether it is due to natural or human causes-rather than spend hundreds of billions of dollars trying to stabilize or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Whatever the reason, we believe Al Gore should debate his critics. If you agree, please ask Al Gore to accept Lord Monckton's challenge.

Climate change report is wrong: Australian professor

Once again, it is only a retired scientist who feels free to speak up

The global scientific report blaming carbon emissions for climate change is based on misconceptions about the Earth's behaviour, says an Australian academic who believes global warming is not caused by mankind. The respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released earlier this year said it was very likely climate change was the result of greenhouse gases produced by human activity.

Emeritus Professor Lance Endersbee has accused the scientific leaders of trying to stifle debate over the causes of climate change. Professor Endersbee, a former dean of engineering and pro-vice chancellor at Monash University, says it is highly probable that increased electromagnetic radiation of the sun is behind global warming. "There are several disturbing aspects of the IPCC report which indicate that the conclusions are based on serious misconceptions about the behaviour of the Earth," Prof Endersbee said in the newsletter New Concepts in Global Tectonics. "The report reflects little understanding of the dynamic relation between the Earth, the Sun and the Cosmos. "In these circumstances it is incredible that some leaders of scientific societies and academies have tried to use their authority to demand acceptance of the IPCC report."

Prof Endersbee said air pollution should be dealt with on a regional level as a separate issue to global warming. "It is ridiculous to assume that the health problems of smog in India and China have global causes, and can be solved by carbon trading in the City of London," he said. Carbon dioxide was not a pollutant and there was no need for a risky emissions market as advocated by the IPCC, Prof Endersbee said. "If it comes to be recognised that global warming has a natural cause, and the fears subside, the value of carbon credits will then drop to zero, and the market in carbon trading will collapse."


Defending economic growth against green bigotry

A curious thing has happened during the last 30-odd years: economic growth, the source of our affluence and the scourge of poverty, has come under increasing attack by more and more so-called intellectuals, especially in universities and the media. According to these `deep thinkers' the "costs of growth are too high". These critics accuse growth of being responsible for pollution, congestion, environmental degradation, resource depletion, stress, etc. None of these accusations are true. (I consider the last accusation that growth has caused more stress than ever is so stupid that it does not warrant further comment).

To successfully deal with the charges that greens level against economic growth it is vitally important to define growth, the reason for this will be made clear at a later stage. Growth is the increasing accumulation of capital per head of the population. Therefore economies are growing when capital accumulation proceeds faster than population growth. This definition, however, brings us in turn to the nature and role of capital. As the Austrian school has put it: capital is the material means of production. These means form an intricate interwoven heterogeneous structure consisting of complex roundabout stages of production.

The economy grows by adding more and more advanced stages of production to the capital structure. Not only do these roundabout methods of production increase output per head they also (as Ludwig M. Lachmann pointed out) encourage an increasing division of capital which enables us to defy the law of diminishing returns. (Capital and Its Structure, Sheed Andrews and McMeel Inc., 1977, first published in 1955).

Despite erroneous views to the contrary, growth can only be fuelled by savings. There is no way that any economy can accumulate capital goods without current consumption being sacrificed by someone somewhere. This raises the important fact that anti-growth activists generally ignore: the real cost of growth is forgone consumption, nothing else. This means that their assertion that our society is motivated by a growth-at-any-cost mentality is absurd because if this were so then we would never consume - we would literally save all of our income.

Of course, the Green response is that the process of capital accumulation is destroying the earth's environment. This is nonsense. Unfortunately, it is the kind of nonsense that `journalists' give credibility to by uncritically giving its proponents a platform from which they can mislead the public. John MacLeay of The Australian, for example, is one of those journalists who seems to think he is paid to promote green propaganda rather than mere facts and informed opinions.

Some years ago this pillar of journalistic integrity MacLeay uncritically reported on the so-called Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which made the patently absurd claim that America's real per capita GDP had fallen to the 1950 level of $US4,000. The authors of this travesty of independent thinking claimed they arrived at their figures by accounting for air pollution, traffic congestion, health, etc., which according to them had deteriorated. To support this anti-growth nonsense,

Now MacLeay, who has now risen to the giddy heights of financial journalism, deferred to Clive Hamilton, executive director of the Australia Institute (an extremist green `think tank') who stated that the report supported "most people's experience of economic growth". As is par for the course, MacLeay did not bother to ask Hamilton by what scientific means he arrived at this conclusion. Nor did this genius note that the authors' dismal assertions about rising air pollution, deteriorating health, etc., are false. This means the authors are either incompetent or dishonest.

If MacLeay had behaved like a real journalist instead of green leftwing hack he would have fact-checked Hamilton's claims. If he had done so he would have learnt that air quality in the US has been steadily improving for a long time and has now reached the state where air pollution is a minor problem, except for scaremongering greens. For example, despite the fact that coal consumption increased by 45 per cent from 1973 to 1988, sulphur dioxide emissions fell by 23 per cent and nitrogen oxides by 14 per cent; during the same period nationwide emissions of lead fell by over 90 per cent. In addition, modern cars now produce 76 per cent less nitrogen oxide and 96 per cent less carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon than cars built in the early 1970s. No wonder pollution data from the EPA shows that air quality in the US has been improving, not declining as claimed by anti-growth greens and their media supporters.

Let's do what lefty journalists seem incapable of doing and this is using a historical perspective. Urban pollution did not start with rapid economic growth, though growth is responsible for reducing it. Historical records show that coal smoke was considered a problem in London even in the thirteenth century. In 1307, Edward I issued a Royal Proclamation restricting the use of coal in an attempt to curb smoke - to no avail. By the seventeenth century London was noted for the black pall created by coal burning. When the Anglo-Dutch war temporarily cut off coal supplies from Newcastle the misery of the poor was particularly noted by contemporaries. (Incidentally, Europe was in the middle of the Little Ice Age at this time. Obviously, the English were not burning enough coal).

The problem of coal smoke continued into the twentieth century when it was finally solved by the benefits of growth, which had already solved a multitude of other problems such as the tens of thousands of metric tonnes of horse manure that had to be taken from city streets each day (a horse produces about 20 kilos of dung per day), not to mention the 300 grams of liquid a horse releases per mile plus the thousands of dead horses that had to be disposed off each year. It takes little to imagine (except for a 'journalist') the risk to public health that the horse once posed.

What is not realised is that man-made pollution is a misallocation problem usually caused by a failure to enforce property rights. When one starts cutting pollution a point is eventually reached where costs further cuts exceed the gains to society. Put another way, beyond the optimum the benefits of cutting pollution are outweighed by the costs. Now cutting pollution involves redirecting capital and labour from the production of other goods and services, i.e., cars, houses, schools, hospitals, etc. These are the real costs of any economic activity, what economists call opportunity costs. This becomes fact particularly clear when even trace elements are treated as dangerous pollutants by green fanatics.

Of late I seem to have been hearing quite a lot about pollution in Beijing and Shanghai. As luck would have it I I recently spent a month in Shanghai during which I did not witness any significant pollution compared with my experience in the 1950s in the UK. Even now I can clearly recall the soot-covered buildings and the density and nastiness of the smog once it had formed. This brings to mind observations of Chateaubriand, a French diplomat, who wrote a vivid account of his impression of London as he approached it from Blackheath in 1822:

...I saw before me the immense skullcap of smoke which covers the city of London. Plunging into the gulf of black mist, as if into one of the mouths of Tartarus, and crossing the whole town, whose streets I recognised, I arrived at the [French] embassy in Portland Place.

Compared with nineteenth century London, and even the industrial city of Birmingham, Shanghai is a graphic example of environmental purity. My point is that from a historical perspective pollution in Shanghai is not nearly as bad as many people think. Moreover, the experience of England demonstrates that air quality can be greatly improved so long as the country is rich enough to invest in the necessary technology.

In his attack on economics, Clive Hamilton asserted that it "places little if any value on sustainability", and went on to make the ludicrous assertion "that the time value of money", its discounted value, "makes it impossible for the market to account for sustainability across generations". Only a thoroughgoing economic ignoramus could seriously make these statements.

In the 1890s Boehm Bawerk thoroughly explored the phenomenon of discounting and analysed its economic consequences. (See volume II in Capital and Interest). He demonstrated that time preference - the preference for present consumption over future consumption - explained the existence of interest. The higher the rate of time preference, the preference for greater consumption today over even more consumption in the future. Discounting brings us back to capital. As I pointed out in the beginning of the article, capital is a heterogeneous structure formed from savings. What determines the quantity of savings and hence the length of the structure is time preference: the lower the rate of time preference, the greater quantity of savings and the lower the rate of interest, which is also the key to the structure.

It should now be clear, even to Hamilton, that capital is the means by which we not only provide for ourselves but for future generations. Furthermore, as the structure continues to expand it also embodies new technologies which not only help to conserve existing resources but also creates new ones. This provides us with the additional insight that growth is a resource generating process. It follows from this definition of capital that any policy that distorts it or forces it to contract will lower living standards.

Now the price of any resource is the discounted value of the sum of its anticipated earnings (rents). This process is called capitalisation. It is obviously in the interest of entrepreneurs to maximise the present value of their land and capital assets. (Actually, it is their internal rate of return that they try to maximise). This is why they will avoid excessive use of their resources; such use would reduce their market value. Therefore Hamilton's criticism that the market cannot "maintain sustainability across generations" has no foundation in theory or history. Nevertheless, a number of corporations have swallowed the "sustainability" myth.

Demonstrating his remarkable powers of deduction MacLeay referred to a hepatitis outbreak caused by raw sewerage. Apparently, the failure of a state run sewage works to successfully dispose of waste matter confirmed - at least to MacLeay - the wisdom of the greens' anti-growth case.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


5 April, 2007


The "moral relativists" of the Left themselves have a typically psychopathic lack of any morality -- but they are always ready to use moral talk to manipulate more decent people

As a scientist, I find the current strategy of the global warming crusade to be fascinating. Particularly because I am a scientist, I also find it insulting. Everyone should find it very disturbing. I am referring to the fact that the global warming issue is now regarded as a "moral" matter by its advocates. None other than The High Priest of Global Warming (Al Gore) has decreed it as such.

Of course, there is some obvious humor in this because the liberals will also tell you that you "cannot legislate morality". Well, it does not take complicated logic to conclude that if global warming is indeed a moral matter and if it is true that you cannot legislate morality, then it should hold that you cannot legislate global warming.

But making funny distracts us from a deeper concern that should worry anyone who wants to see the truth remain relevant in the matters that face our society. To see this deeper danger, let us forget about global warming for just a moment and consider morality in very general terms. There are numerous ways to define morality, but one that is particularly helpful here is to regard morality as the "lens" through which one views the facts. Morality should not be used to simply deny the facts; and people who really understand morality do not use it that way. Rather, they use morality to put the facts in a proper context. Morality tells them "what to make of the facts".

This sounds a little abstract, so consider a practical example: Let us assume that Bob has just shot George dead with a shotgun and that this is an undeniable fact supported by overwhelming evidence. Now, one could use a moral argument to suggest that the shooting was justified as an act of self-defense. Alternately, one could also use a moral argument to insist that the shooting was cold-blooded murder. But one cannot use a moral argument to insist that the shooting simply did not happen. In other words, moral considerations influence how we view the facts and can be used to argue "what we should make of the facts", but they cannot be used to literally change or deny the facts. Whether a claimed fact is indeed true should be a purely intellectual question, rather than a moral one.

Now consider, in contrast, how "morality" is being employed by global warming advocates like Al Gore: For many years, global warming seemed to be a fact-focused debate. But a persistent problem for the advocates has been dissenting scientific opinion. Some very reputable scientists hold that global warming may be attributed to natural phenomena like the intensity of solar radiation. Others have valid questions about how much warming will actually occur and how severe the resulting effects will really be. Still others suggest that, if the problem is indeed real and serious, then serious responses are indicated. These folks propose an honest examination of real solutions (like a renewed emphasis on nuclear power) instead of the childish games of useless treaties, carbon credits, windmills and fluorescent light bulbs that seem to enamor so many of the advocates.

It is one thing to write these dissenting opinions off as factually false, but this is apparently no longer regarded as adequate by the global warming advocates. The dissent keeps popping up, it backed by some very reputable people wielding very credible facts, and the availability of alternate information outlets has made it impossible to smother the doubters and dissenters. Now enter the moral angle. If global warming is now a moral matter, it would seem to suggest an associated implication that these inconvenient viewpoints are immoral. Apparently it is now the duty of "good" people to reject these opinions on this "moral" basis and without regard to whether they are factually true or false.

The most bizarre aspect of this strategy is that it is exactly what the liberals have always (unfairly) accused us conservatives of doing. Here, morality is not being used as a lens through which to view the facts, but rather as a hammer that can smash the inconvenient ones. Regardless of the evidence to the contrary, I must not believe it possible for Bob to have shot George because such a fact is not compatible with the accepted moral viewpoint! If I dare to believe otherwise, then I am "immoral".

The message of these pseudo-moralists is that "good" people must start by accepting the pre-ordained orthodox conclusion and then work backwards through the claimed facts, making not an intellectual assessment of whether they are indeed true, but rather a "moral" assessment of whether or not they agree with the conclusion. Things claimed as facts which are "good" (in this moral sense) should be embraced and those which are "bad" (in this same moral sense) should be discarded, not because they are factually false, but because they are "immoral".

In all honesty, this should scare the heck out of everyone. This is an atmosphere in which scientific inquiry is steered not by factual truth, but by a pre-ordained "moral" position. What is at work here is exactly what the liberals have always claimed to condemn. How is this any different from the decree of a radical theocratic dictator who will allow only those scientific conclusions which are approved by his church? The liberals always claimed that such behavior - allowing moral considerations to trump factual ones - was the ultimate evil. But apparently, even this "ultimate evil" becomes "acceptable strategy" if the cause is justified. This is "liberal moral relativism" taken to a whole new level.



Worried about your carbon footprint? Maybe you shouldn't be. In the week the Government unveiled its Climate Change Bill seeking huge CO2 emissions cuts, the Tenant Farmers' Association annual meeting heard from a scientist who claims current climate change thinking is 'nonsense'. ALISTAIR DRIVER heard him go down a storm at the Farmers Club.

It was certainly a speech with a difference. Over the past 12 months, farmers have been bombarded with rhetoric about their frontline role in the fight against climate change and how their carbon footprint is now the only thing that really matters. So when a respected scientist told tenant farmers they were being conned and everything they had heard up to now on climate change was wrong, they sat up and took notice.

Philip Stott is rare thing in that he is a scientist who refuses to buy into the prevailing theory that human carbon dioxide emissions are the main driving force behind climate change. He ridicules the idea that politicians can control the earth's climate and says the current global drive to reduce CO2 emissions is not only futile but is diverting attention and resources away from issues that really matter.

During a charismatic speech at the TFA's annual meeting he pleaded with farmers to remain open-minded on the issue. "Everybody is trying to use global warming for their own ends and beware of politicians trying to bear gifts because they want to use you for their agenda. That could backfire badly for farmers on the ground."

Prof Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at the University of London, stressed he was not saying climate change was not happening or even that humans were not playing a part. He argued, however, that the role played by CO2 emissions in creating a greenhouse effect that traps the sun's heat above the earth was relatively small.

Prof Stott, who is well known as a media commentator on the environment, featured in a groundbreaking programme on climate change on Channel 4 last Thursday, which brought together scientists who dispute the CO2 theory. They argued, for example, that while fossil records have shown a correlation between climate and CO2 over time, it is not CO2 that has made the earth hotter but the other way round. Warmer oceans, for example, have produced more CO2, they said.

They put forward the theory that linked climate change to the interaction between the sun's cosmic rays and water vapour and cloud cover, and produced convincing graphs to demonstrate their theory. Prof Stott said the planet's temperature had always fluctuated - in the 1970s the great scare story was the next ice age - and numerous factors together combined to create the variations. "Climate is governed by everything from the tilt of the earth, to volcanoes, ocean currents, sun spots, cosmic rays, solar sunspots, meteors and reflection from the land.

So to put it all down to one factor - human CO2 emissions - is just not credible and the idea that politicians can control the climate is nonsense. It's Alice in Wonderland stuff." Even if CO2 was a major factor in global warming, just 'tinkering' with emissions was going to make little difference, he said. It would take 'massive emission cuts' to make a real difference, as much as 90 per cent, according to one commentator, he said. Yet politicians and the media were fully signed up to what was now 'fundamentally a religion divorced from science' where opposition was 'simply not allowed'.

At the farm level, policy was being distorted by the obsession with reducing the industry's carbon footprint, which was shifting the focus and funds away from research in areas that really counted - including food production and mitigating the impact of climate change. "We need research into new forms of farming -- help farmers adapt to climate change -- but all that is seen as secondary," he said.

The vital debate about energy had also been skewed by the emphasis on CO2 emissions. While local farm renewable initiatives, whether it be biogas or biofuels, were important, large scale biofuel production had environmental downsides and would be divisive for the industry, he said. "Having ignored them for so long, the Government has decided farming is important because of the climate change rhetoric but it is not for you, it is for the image it gives the public about them," he said.

On a global level poorer countries were being lectured on energy use by western politicians who did not even live by their own rules, such as climate change campaigner Al Gore, recently exposed for using 12 times the average amount of energy in his own home.

He dismissed the Stern report's key finding that climate change would cause a 13.8 per cent loss in global income by 2020, claiming this would be compensated for many times over a general increase in wealth. "We are trying to benefit a rich future generation by taking from a poorer current generation and that does not make sense. We have four billion people in poverty, two billion with dirty water and two billion with no modern energy - we should be trying to solve those problems not a future problem that may never happen," he said.

Prof Stott remains in a very small minority - 2,500 scientists signed the global Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report backing the CO2 theory in February - and is often attacked for his views. He counters by saying most scientists are being 'dragged along by a great story' and the knowledge they can get funding easily for research in the area, while the media is making the mistake of believing science works by consensus. "It does not and never has done - remember Galileo. Science progresses by scepticism and paradigm shifts when new theories rise up and displace dominant ones. I think we are at the hysterical peak of the CO2 theory and this paradigm is bound to fail as it predicates it itself on one factor when climate change is a very, very complex thing. "So my message to you as farmers is to remain sceptical, don't get drawn in and fight your corner as practical land stewards of this earth."


The "hockeystick" climate chart -- increasing recognition of a scientific fraud

That something so contrary to all prior knowledge was immediately accepted shows how gullible scientists can be when it suits them

The basics of science involve a number of simple rules, a healthy skepticism, and a guiding principle of letting the data settle the disputes. Data need to be checked and validated, measurements need to be explained and justified, as well as the calculational techniques described. Replication of the results by others is essential, as are the analyses of measuring errors and uncertainties.

The global warming issues alarmingly have not been sufficiently scrutinized. Errors, misstatements, partial statements, evasions, and lack of cooperation and candor, even ad hominem attacks are used by the proponents instead. Senators Rockefeller (VA) and Snowe (ME) called for the suppression of skeptics. Others suggest that Nuremburg Trials be held for them as well. Science isn't conducted that way....

The lack of scientific integrity permeates the global warming movement and can be traced to include the IPCC itself. In the Third Assessment Report of 2001 the IPCC published and repeatedly presented what has become known as the "Hockeystick". This is a graphical representation shaped like a hockeystick, of the global temperatures for the last 1000 years. It was published in the science journal Nature as a two-part reconstruction of the temperatures over the past 1000 years.

The statistical studies used to produce the chart were extremely dense technically, using logically opaque and obscure statistical techniques. It was so opaque that the editors of Nature as well as its peer reviewers were not able to reconstruct the data and computing efforts needed to generate the "Hockeystick". This is not the way peer review is supposed to work.

Worse, the chart was enthusiastically adopted by the authors of the IPCC, and published in its Third Assessment Report apparently without review. Worse still, many foreign governments adopted the chart as gospel as they addressed their national policies toward "global warming", and mitigation efforts. It turns out that the Hockeystick wasn't gospel at all.

Incredibly, there were two individuals, Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre (M&M), two Canadians who had the wits, statistical and computer skills, and doggedness to unravel the complex data and the obscure statistical techniques used to construct the "Hockeystick'. ( Their efforts were obstructed at many steps along the way by the studies' authors. This opposition by the authors also is an intellectual red-flag indicating that something besides good science was involved, such as politics, funding, or fame, etc. Good scientists welcome replication and solid reviews.

What M&M found in the statistics behind that IPCC chart has been a great example of international scientific fraud and malpractice. That it now drives energy policy in many nations is frightening.

Simultaneously M&M have given the world a classic example of what true science is about, that is, how skilled individuals can unravel the confusing data and analytical techniques and find the errors. It has happened many times in our history. Heavy prices have been paid for challenging prevailing dogmas. The world owes a great debt of gratitude to both McKitrick and McIntyre for their unique and powerful efforts and their extraordinary findings.

Temperature proxy data from the past 1000 years of course were needed to construct the 'Hockeystick" curve. Actual temperature measurements could not be made during much of this time simply because the thermometer wasn't invented until 1709 by Gabriel Fahrenheit. Such thermometers were not widely used for decades and the concept of heat was unknown (Fourier provided the Laws of Heat Transfer much later) so that actual climate temperature data did not systematically begin for another two hundred years. Thus proxies such as core samples and tree rings were used.

What McKitrick and McIntyre have found in their hockeystick analysis is shattering and profound. It destroys the credibility and integrity of the IPCC, the editors of Nature Magazine, and the 2500 hundred or so members of a so-called consensus of climate experts. As M&M have once again shown that consensus is not science.

The authors of the hockeystick chart did not indicate finding the well-known Medieval Warming Period (WMP, when temperatures were higher than now. They did not find the well-known Little Ice Age in the 1500s to the 1800s, when temperatures were lower than now. The warming shown in the 20th century was not consistent with other data, such as the 50 years of balloon data. Their work has been a series of lessons learned about incompatibilities of politics and science. They don't mix.

Since the findings of M&M are not well known one might suspect that the climate experts don't agree with M&M. As a matter of fact many do agree with M&M and have said so. For example McKitrick has received many communications from climatologists from around the world who have expressed support for his findings. McKitrick says: "Since our work has begun to appear we have enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing we are winning over the expert community, one at a time. Physicist Richard Muller of Berkeley studied our work last year and wrote an article about it:

`[The findings] hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others". Suddenly, the hockeystick, the poster child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics'".

He goes on: "In an article in the Dutch science magazine Natuurwetenschap & Techniek, Dr. Rob van Dorland of the Dutch National Meteorological Agency commented "It is strange that that the climate reconstruction of Mann passed both peer review rounds of the IPCC without anyone ever really having checked it. I think this issue will be on the agenda of the next IPCC meeting in Peking this May".

McKitrick continues: "In February 2005 the German television channel Das Erste interviewed climatologist Ulrich Cubasch, who revealed that he too had been unable to replicate the hockey stick. He (climatologist Ulrich Cubasch) discussed with his co-workers-and many of his professional colleagues - the objections, and sought to work them through. Bit by bit, it became clear also to his colleagues: the two Canadians were right (M&M). .Between 1400 and 1600, the temperature shift was considerably higher than, for example, in the previous century. With that, the core conclusion, and that also of the IPCC 2001 Report, was completely undermined".

McKitrick continues: "Recently we (M&M) received an email from Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, retired director of the Royal Meteorological Institute of the Netherlands. He wrote: `The IPCC review process is fatally flawed. The behavior of Michael Mann is a disgrace to the profession.The scientific basis for the Kyoto Protocols is grossly inadequate'".

Of course the likes of Al Gore and Hollywood are beyond hope when it comes to scientific skills. It is beyond comprehension just how Gore, Hollywood, and the media have not asked to sit down and confront other valid, defensible, yet opposing points of view. They have simply started with their conclusion that doom is imminent, and ignored all evidence which doesn't support it. And there is lots of such evidence.


A coming apocalypse always has plenty of believers

People often ask how I can be sceptical about the claim that global warming is the major threat of our time, requiring urgent and massive action. After all, many scientists believe it and I am not a scientist. It's a good question, but I think I have a good answer. History shows that scientists are not always right. Sometimes they get caught up in the non-scientific enthusiasms of their time. History also shows that one of those enthusiasms, which crops up constantly, is a desire to believe in the approach of some kind of apocalypse. Of course, I have no way of knowing if the carbon crusade is a case in point. But it shares some of the characteristics of previous apocalyptic movements, which provides grounds for cool scepticism.

An apocalyptic movement comparable to the carbon crusade was the belief the world would soon run out of resources. According to the 1984 book The Apocalyptics by the American journalist Edith Efron, in 1970 scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world's great centres of learning, produced the so-called SCEP report that acknowledged there just wasn't enough data to make such a prediction. Two years later the institute completed another report, Limits to Growth, commissioned by the Club of Rome, a group of people fearful for the planet's future. This time the conclusion was very different: a computer-modelled graph "showed natural resources, the industrial output, the food supply, and the population crashing somewhere near the year 2005 and continuing to crash for years . On the basis of these findings, the study called for an immediate cessation of all economic growth". Limits to Growth caused an international furore and was a bestseller in many countries, moving 3 million copies worldwide.

Although the resource issue was more widely debated among scientists than global warming, the similarities between the two are many, including the faith in computer modelling and the media treatment. The media largely ignored the moderate report (SCEP) and seized upon the alarmist one ( Limits to Growth). Something similar has happened with the carbon crusade. In 2005 the House of Lords select committee of economic affairs produced a report urging a cautious economic response to climate change, because its implications are so unclear. That report is well regarded by many economists but was largely ignored by the world media. The alarmist report produced the following year for the British treasury by Sir Nicholas Stern had the opposite fate: the world media have embraced it even as an increasing number of economists have been scathing in their condemnation.

On March 21 Bjorn Lomborg, the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, gave evidence to the US Congress house committee on energy and commerce. Lomborg believes humanity is warming the globe, but noted that academic papers have described the Stern report as "substandard", "preposterous", "incompetent", "deeply flawed" and "neither balanced nor credible". There's an emerging consensus among economists (for example in the leading journal World Economics) that Stern vastly inflated the likely damages from climate change and vastly underestimated the cost of the action he recommended.

To see such work hailed so effusively and widely, and to see its author received by Australia's top politicians just this week, are two indications to the sceptical observer that the carbon crusade is about apocalypse as much as it is about science.

There's a widespread view that we need to evoke the precautionary principle with climate change on the grounds that it's better to be safe than sorry. But when we talk about the precautionary principle, we need also to evoke another concept: opportunity cost. Money devoted to climate change is money not devoted to other problems. So the right question is this: given our current state of knowledge, which of the problems facing humanity deserves most of our attention?

Several years ago, Lomborg set up a project known as the Copenhagen consensus to determine this. Its starting point was to ask how we might best spend $US50 billion ($62 billion) if we wanted to make the world a better place. (As it happens, the amount of money spent on global warming research since 1990 is now about $US50 billion.) The project has compiled a list of problems that are real, urgent and solvable. Here are some of them, ranked by a panel of top economists, including four Nobel laureates. When reading them, bear in mind that if the world were to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol and thereby postpone warming by just five years to 2100, the cost would be $US180 billion annually.

According to Lomborg's evidence to the Congressional inquiry "preventing HIV/AIDS turns out to be the very best investment humanity can make . For $US27 billion, we can save 28 million lives over the coming years." Investing $US12 billion would probably halve the number of people dying from malnutrition, currently almost 2.4 million a year; $US13 billion would reduce deaths from malaria, now a million a year, by the same proportion. UNICEF estimates that just $US70-80 billion a year could give all Third World inhabitants access to the basics such as health, education, water and sanitation.

The need to believe in an apocalypse is a base craving unfortunately rooted in the human psyche. We need to resist it with another human attribute: the power of reason.


Australia's "drought" hits Sydney again

Despite repeated loud claims of "drought", there is nothing inadequate about Australia's current rainfall -- but there IS a shortage of will among politicians who have been so cowed by Green fanatics that they have built no new dams for many years -- hence water usage restrictions amidst floods thoughout Australia

Commuters told of roads turning into rivers and water lapping at front doors after a storm hit Sydney's eastern suburbs this morning. About 80 millimetres of rain fell on Rose Bay in about an hour and small hail hit Bondi. The State Emergency Service said they had 12 requests for help during the storm, including flash flooding problems.

IT consultant Anthony Fajwul, 34, found himself surrounded by water while driving through Kiaora Road in Double Bay. "It was surreal," he told "[The water] was lapping at the doorsteps of the houses. One resident stepped out of their front door into knee-deep water. "I thought [my car] was going to break down - the water was above my wheel line. I put the window down and I could touch the water. "I thought surely that must be a one-off, but when I turned into New South Head Road, it was just as bad. "It was just this massive river as far as the eye could see. People were drenched on the sidewalk. People were holding their shoes up. "It was just such a sudden storm. I've never seen anything like it."

Bob Moore, senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said a storm built up near Kurnell about 8am and moved through the eastern suburbs over the following hour. "It was moving along fairly steadily but slowed down a bit over Rose Bay, and they copped [it]. They've had about 80 millimetres," he said. "It was enough to cause a bit of flash flooding there apparently. "[Eighty millimetres] is something we would get once every one or two years around the eastern suburbs in that space of time."

He said a Bureau of Meteorology staff member had also reported small-sized hail falling in Bondi. "[The hail] didn't seem to be a worry to anyone but the rain certainly was pretty heavy." Mr Moore said the downpour had since eased off but warned that there was still a chance of a thunderstorm later in the day. A spokesman for the NSW Fire Brigades said crews had been sent to locations in Bellevue Hill, Edgecliff, Randwick and Coogee to deal with flooding-related issues. In Edgecliff, crews were pumping out 60 centimetres of water, which had flooded three buildings and caused a retaining wall to collapse, he said.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


4 April, 2007

Eco-warrior prefers a helicopter to get around

More evidence that Greenies regard others as inferiors who are fit only to be told what to do

It's one rule for them, and another for the rest of us. Trudie Styler, wife of Sting and self-styled eco-warrior, recently took a helicopter to travel 80 miles from Wiltshire to Devon, a journey that would have taken less than two hours by train. The actress and film producer is forever harping on about saving the environment, having set up the Rainforest Campaign in the late 1980s with her pop star husband. The Stings are known for eating only organic food, supposedly grown on their land, although one member of staff recently admitted to serving up nonorganic salad from the supermarket.

So what was Styler thinking as she clambered into her gas-guzzling chopper, off to stay with friend and fellow greenie Zac Goldsmith on his organic farm in Devon? Her own home, Lake House, a Jacobean manor in the Avon Valley, is conveniently located just six miles out of Salisbury, from where frequent trains run to the West Country. On Monday David Cameron announced plans to crackdown on domestic flights by slapping a green tax on them, so perhaps Styler is enjoying the luxury of a private helicopter while she can get away with it.

But this isn't the first time the Stings have been caught out. In 2000 the couple threatened the Ministry of Defence with legal action if a nearby airfield were to be expanded. It later emerged Sting had twice used the airfield in question from which to roar off in his private jet.



Efforts by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to put Europe at the forefront of cuts to greenhouse gases are being threatened by her own government's plan to build 26 coal-fired power stations. A 30 billion euro scheme for the construction of 26 new coal-fired power stations by 2020 has been approved by Ms Merkel's grand coalition, as the country moves to abandon nuclear power.

Some of the power stations, which aim to use cheap Polish and South African coal and highly polluting German lignite coal, have already been built and others are at an advanced planning stage. Thirteen of the new stations alone have been earmarked for Germany's most populous state of North Rhine Westphalia.

The project has infuriated environmentalists, who are already angered by Ms Merkel's lobbying to ensure tough new curbs on CO2 emissions are not imposed on European car makers. Reinhard Loske, a Green Party spokesman, said that if all 13 coal-fired stations went ahead in North Rhine Westphalia then the state would end up with a higher C02 output than the whole of Switzerland.

New gas-fired power stations emit 365g of CO2 per kW/hour, hard coal plants produce 750g and lignite-fired plants up to 1,153g. Germany's Federal Environment Agency insists that new power plants will lead to an overall reduction of the country's current C02 emissions, but only by 14 per cent, much lower than Ms Merkel's 40 per cent target.


Global warming causes snow!

Unusually heavy snow in March in the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan plateau has prompted Chinese meteorologists to believe global warming is responsible for the extreme weather in the fragile Himalayan region. In early March, heavy snow fell on most areas east of the Qaidam Basin in Qinghai Province, bringing precipitations of 10 to 18 millimetres, 16 times more than the same period on average, a meteorologist at the Qinghai Provincial Climate Centre, Dai Sheng said. "There are no records of such a heavy snowfall for this area in a normally dry spring season, especially for many sandy areas," Dai said.

The temperatures in northern Qinghai were also 0.1 to 4.4 degrees Celsius lower than average for early March. However, in October, the average temperatures in Qinghai was 1.4 degrees Celsius higher than average, the highest in 45 years. Dai said, global warming contributed to the occurrence of extreme weather on the plateau and forecast such weather will occur more often in the future.

Tibet, which neighbours Qinghai, has also experienced several heavy snowfalls since the beginning of March. A snowstorm hit the southern and southwestern areas of the region on Monday and Tuesday, with precipitations of 10 to 16 millimetres forming snow drifts of up to 33 centimetres. China's average temperature for the 2006-2007 winter was minus 2.4 degrees Celsius, 1.9 degrees higher than normal years.

The snowstorm which hit northeast China in early March -- the strongest March snowstorm in 56 years -- was a result of an overly warm winter, said a meteorological expert with the Central Meteorological Station.


Why has "global warming" become such a passionate subject? - Let's not lose our cool

By Syun Akasofu, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks

The new IPCC Report (2007) states, on page 10, "Most observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." Their great effort in making progress in climate change science is certainly commended. The media in the world is paying great attention mostly to the term "very likely," meaning the confidence level of more than 90%. However, I, as a scientist, am more concerned about the term "most," because the IPCC Report does not demonstrate the basis for the term "most."

There seems to be a roughly linear increase of the temperature from about 1800, or even much earlier, to the present. This trend should be subtracted from the temperature data during the last 100 years. Thus, there is a possibility that only a fraction of the present warming trend may be attributed to the greenhouse effect resulting from human activities. One possible cause of the linear increase may be that the Earth is still recovering from the Little Ice Age.

Thus, natural causes cannot be ignored in the present warming trend, in addition to the greenhouse effect. This short article is my criticism on the report from the point of an arctic researcher. The Arctic is the place where climate change is most prominently in progress, compared with the rest of the world.

Before critically examining the new IPCC Report, it is of interest to review why global warming has become such a passionate subject. In order to find the reasons for the present rampant reaction to global warming, it is necessary to think back to the Cold War period. At that time in history, both the United States and the Soviet Union had a large arsenal of atomic bombs, which could have eliminated all living creatures on Earth many times over. Therefore, scientists and the general public alike urged both governments to abolish their nuclear armaments, signing statements urging this action. There was broad consensus, both amongst the public and in the scientific community, on this issue.

The fear of nuclear war subsided as the Soviet Union began to collapse. It so happened that just before the collapse of the USSR, some groups of US scientists, using supercomputers, were studying future trends in the earth's climate. They announced in 1988 that increasing levels of CO2, if unchecked, would cause substantial warming of the earth's temperature, resulting in various disasters. It is easy to understand why some advocative scientists, who were searching for new, significant themes, took up the grand subject of global warming as their new area of focus. This theme was successfully presented to the United Nations and an organization called the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988. Suddenly, the quiet scientific backwater of "climate research" was in the world spotlight. Perhaps, the initial motivation should not necessarily be faulted.

At the same time, many environmental protection organizations and advocacy groups were anxious; it was proving difficult to attract the attention of the general public. In addition, some government officials were also searching for new, globally significant problems to tackle, avoiding more urgent problems of African poverty and other critical problems. It is not too great a leap to infer that at least some of these groups seized the opportunity to make global warming their main theme in the hopes of attracting public interest.

Meanwhile, the IPCC mobilized a large number of climatologists and meteorologists and published several impressive, voluminous publications, one after the other. In one of them, "Climate Change 2001," for example, a figure that became known as "the hockey stick," was used prominently in the "Summary for Policy Makers," in which the temperature shows a dramatic increase during the most recent 100 years, after a slow decrease in temperature over the first 900 years. The nickname "hockey stick" was coined because the temperature-time curve had this sudden, upward kink near the end, like a hockey stick. (Since then, this particular figure has been discredited; the new IPCC Report (2007) does not include the figure.)

With voluminous publications participated by hundreds of scientists, it is therefore understandable that policy makers would trust the "summary," providing them the confidence to base major policy-making decisions on the "summary," as indicated by the "hockey stick" figure.

Indeed, many policy makers, environmental protection groups, the press, and even some scientists took the IPCC reports to mean that all the participating scientists had come to a shared broad consensus that global warming is a very serious issue facing mankind. It is important to recognize that this consensus is of quite a different nature from the one reached on nuclear disarmament. A large number of atomic bombs did, in fact, exist; there was no uncertainty, compared with global warming, which requires much more efforts to understand for the causes.

The reason for emphasizing this point is that whenever someone says there is some uncertainty in projections of future temperature increase, someone else will assert that the danger of global warming has been accurately predicted to be 3øC, as shown in the IPCC Reports, and agreed upon by hundreds of top researchers. Do all the participating scientists agree on the term "most?" If they do, what are their scientific bases?

A supercomputer, as complex and powerful as it may be, is a far cry from the complexity of our real earth! It is simply a very poor virtual earth. Actually, the modelers themselves should know best the limitations of their results as they continue to improve their models, and perhaps modelers should, at times, be a little more cautious about their findings. In any case, modeling is nothing more than an academic exercise, at least at this stage. There is a considerable difference among results obtained by different researchers. To give just one example, the predicted year when Arctic Ocean sea ice would disappear entirely in the summer months spans a range from 2040 to at least 2300. This shows the uncertainty in modeling studies. Since sea ice plays the role of the lid in warming water in a pan, it plays a significant role in climate change and future prediction.

To exacerbate this situation, the media, by and large, tend to report worst-case scenarios and disasters, for example using only the 2040 story. It is understandable that disaster stories draw more readers than stories about the benefits of global warming. Unfortunately, most reporters have little or no background in understanding debates on the simulation results. For these reasons, the initial effort of IPCC has gotten out of control.

It is also a serious problem that global warming can so easily be blamed for everything bad that happens, such as floods (which often result instead from massive deforestation or from loss of wetlands) or extinction of some species (which may result from over-harvesting, loss of habitat, invasion of exotics, pollution problems), etc. In the meantime, those who are really responsible for these calamities can easily hide under the umbrella of global warming.

Most reporters, who come to Alaska to try to find the greenhouse disasters, have little knowledge of the Arctic. They take photographs of large blocks of ice falling from glaciers at their termini and report that global warming is in progress before their very eyes. However, glaciers are not static piles of ice, but instead are constantly flowing rivers of ice. It is normal for tidewater glaciers to calve large blocks of ice from the face as they reach the sea, and they will do so regardless of how warm or cold it is.

Most glaciers in the world have been receding since 1800 or earlier, well before 1940, when CO2 began to increase significantly. Why do major media of the world flock all the way to Alaska, if global warming is a global phenomenon? So far, what they would find is broken houses in Shishmaref, a little island in the Bering Sea coast, because of coastal erosion that is difficult to relate to a direct result of global warming. Some of the current global warming stories, including "The Day after Tomorrow," are based on science fiction, not science. Some of the weak points in the present IPCC Report are:

* There has recently been so much attention focused on the CO2 effect, the Little Ice age has been forgotten. The recovery rate from the Little Ice Age may be as much as 0.5øC/100 years, comparable to the present warming trend of 0.6øC/100 years. The warming caused by the linear change must be carefully evaluated and subtracted in determining the greenhouse effect.

* There was no critical analysis of the mid-century change; the temperature rose between 1910 and 1940, similar in magnitude and rate to the present rise after 1975. Further, the temperature decreased from 1940 to 1975, in spite of the fact that the release of CO2 increased rapidly. At that time, we had similar debates about imminent "global cooling" (the coming of a new ice age) in the 1970s.

* It is crucial to investigate any difference between the 1910-40 increase and the increase after 1975, since the former is likely to be due to natural causes, rather than the greenhouse effect.

* The most prominent warming (twice the global average) took place in the Arctic, particularly in the continental arctic, during the last half of the 20th century, as stated in the IPCC Report, but it disappeared during the last decade or so. Further, the IPCC models cannot reproduce the prominent continental warming, in spite of the fact that the measured amount of CO2 was considered. This particular warming is likely to be part of multi-decadal oscillations, a natural cause.

* It is also important to know that the temperature has been increasing almost linearly from about 1750, or earlier, to the present, in addition to multi-decadal oscillations, such as the familiar El Nino. These are natural changes.

* Both changes are significant. Until they can be quantitatively more carefully examined and subtracted from the present trend, it is not possible to determine the manmade greenhouse effect. Therefore, there is no firm basis to claim "most" in the IPCC Report.

* The IPCC should have paid more attention to climate change in the Arctic.

* The mid-century (1940-1975) alarm of a coming Ice Age teaches a very important lesson to all of us, including climate researchers. It is not possible to forecast climate change (warming or cooling) in the year 2100 based on a few decades of data alone.

* Further, it is very confusing that some members of the media and some scientific experts blame "global warming" for every "anomalous" weather change, including big snowfalls, droughts, floods, ice storms, and hurricanes. This only confuses the issue.

At the International Arctic Research Center, which was established under the auspices of the "US-Japan Common Agenda" in 1999, our researchers are working on the arctic climate change issues mentioned in the above, in particular, in distinguishing natural changes and the manmade greenhouse effects in the Arctic. The term "most" is very inaccurate.

We must restore respectability - by that I mean scientific rigor - to the basic science of climatology. We must also stop "tabloid" publications in science. Only then, can we make real progress in projecting future temperature change. Although I have been "designated" by the news media as "Alaska's best known climate change skeptic," I am a critic, not a skeptic. Science without criticism could go astray.

In the meantime, environmental protection advocates might consider a return to their original important themes of protecting the environment from destruction, pollution, over-harvesting, massive deforestation, and habitat destruction. All these processes of environmental degradation are taking place right now before our very eyes, and they are not all related to global warming.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


3 April, 2007


An email from Paul Driessen []

What an amazing world we live in. Scientist Michael Mann, creator of the broken hockey stick temperature graph, informs us that "Allowing governmental delegations to ride into town at the last minute and water down conclusions, after they were painstakingly arrived at in an objective scientific assessment, does not serve society well." (New Scientist, 8 March 2007)

What was his view just a few short years ago, when Ben Santer altered the 1966 IPCC Report, after it had been painstakingly arrived at and agreed to by the panel of scientists -- to ensure that the Report would agree with the rather politicized Summary for Policy Makers, and would garner ample headlines and television news coverage.

Santer added the famous claim that the evidence "now points to a discernable human influence on the global climate." He deleted at least five statements that inconveniently contradicted his assertion. I don't recall Mann criticizing any of Santer's actions.

For more on the 1996 shenanigans, see here


A six-million-tonne question mark was placed over Britain's climate change strategy yesterday with the release of figures showing that UK greenhouse gas emissions, which the Government has pledged to cut radically, are actually soaring. Emissions of the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from power stations, motor vehicles and homes, amounted to 560.6 million tonnes last year, 6.4 million tonnes higher than the 2005 figure. The increase of 1.15 per cent means that Britain's emissions are now at the highest level since Labour came to power a decade ago, nearly 3 per cent above 1997.

The disclosure, which seems to be a stark illustration that Britain's climate strategy is not working, despite all the pronouncements of Tony Blair and his ministers, was greeted with concern in Whitehall and with anger and scorn by environmentalists and opposition politicians. They said the Government was clearly not on course to meet its targets of cutting CO2 by 30 per cent by 2020 and 60 per cent by the middle of the century. (It has already admitted it will not meet its long-standing target of a 20 per cent cut by 2010.)

It is especially embarrassing for the Government as only a fortnight ago it launched with much fanfare its Climate Change Bill, proposing to make future targets to cut emissions legally binding and thus - in theory - unmissable. British official rhetoric about action on global warming has hit new heights in the past six months, with the Treasury-sponsored Stern Review on the economics of climate change, and the publication of the latest report from UN scientists saying that climate change is now an "unequivocal" fact. Yet Britain's own emissions, as yesterday's figures show, are moving in the opposite direction. "2006 was the year of government green spin, but the numbers don't lie," said Charlie Kronick, Greenpeace climate campaigner. "For all the announcements and reports only one thing really matters, is New Labour reducing Britain's carbon footprint? And the answer is no."

The Environment Secretary, David Miliband, acknowledged the concern. "While these figures are provisional, they underline why concerted effort to tackle climate change, both from Government and wider society, is absolutely critical," he said. Mr Miliband's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the rise in emissions last year was "primarily as a result of fuel switching from natural gas to coal for electricity generation". High international gas prices have recently led big power stations to move from gas to cheaper coal, which is much more carbon-intensive.

Environmentalists counterclaimed that the rise in emissions was the result of inadequate government measures. "Ministers get frustrated with us when we give critical reactions to their policies," said Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth (FoE). "But more than any complex piece of analysis, these figures show that we are right - they're not doing enough." Mr Juniper repeated FoE's demand that the Climate Change Bill should include annual targets for cutting CO2 emissions by at least 3 per cent each year (which has been rejected in favour of five-year targets.) "This would force successive governments to put climate change at the core of all their policies and ensure that the UK moves towards a low-carbon economy," he said. "Most of the solutions to climate change already exist. It is the political will that's lacking."

The Green party MEP Caroline Lucas commented: "It isn't setting the right targets alone that matters, it is also enacting the policies to meet them - and the Government has so consistently failed on this front that it gets harder with each passing day to believe a word it utters on the subject." UK transport emissions were the other sector which showed a large rise last year. But the figures show that Britain is still on course to meet its obligations under the Kyoto protocol, the international climate treaty, to reduce emissions of a "basket" of six greenhouse gases by 12 per cent by 2010.



Changing policy without seeming to

Ministers will still be able to hit their proposed statutory carbon dioxide reduction targets without making deep cuts to transport sector emissions because actions by UK bodies to reduce emissions abroad will count towards target achievement. The little-reported proposal to include international action is contained in the draft Climate Change Bill published earlier this month which outlines statutory targets to cut CO2 emissions by 26-32% by 2020 and 60% by 2050 (against a 1990 baseline).

The Bill also proposes that the Government would have to meet statutory five-year C02 budgets set by a new Committee on Climate Change. These would provide a trajectory for the 2050 target to be achieved. A number of research teams have been looking at how transport can contribute to the 60% reduction target. Earlier this month a team from University College London's Environment Institute reported that the Government was off course and that rising transport emissions were a major barrier to progress (LTT 15 Mar). Such assessments, however, overlook the possibility of including emissions reductions from abroad.

Just how significant a contribution this international effort could be is revealed in the Bill's regulatory impact assessment. This cites an analysis for the forthcoming Energy White Paper suggesting that the cost of achieving the targets could be about 25% lower if one-third of the CO2 reductions needed to reach the 2050 target came from international emissions reduction credits. The RIA explains that having to achieve all the emission reductions by domestic effort would make the UK economy less competitive and limit the environmental benefits for any given expenditure. [These effects] would occur if it were necessary to raise the carbon price in markets for heat and transport above that prevailing in the international market, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs explains.

The Bill therefore proposes that emissions reductions achieved overseas but paid for by UK bodies should contribute towards progress against targets and budgets. Carbon credits bought by UK bodies through the EU's emissions trading system will count, as will any mechanisms that form part of a post-Kyoto protocol treaty (measures such as upgrading energy inefficient factories in developing countries already count towards countries' Kyoto protocol targets but the protocol ends in 2012).

This does not mean that all (or an unlimited amount of) emissions reduction effort should or would be achieved overseas, says the draft Bill consultation. It is proposed that the Committee on Climate Change should have a duty to advise the Government on the optimal balance between domestic and overseas effort. DEFRA admits that relying on international contributions does have its downsides; it would, for instance, restrict the pace of decarbonisation of the UK economy and potentially reduce the ability of the UK to demonstrate leadership by transforming the carbon intensity of domestic transport and heat markets.

The Committee on Climate Change will comprise five-eight members drawn from a range of areas of expertise including: economic analysis and forecasting; business competitiveness; technology; energy production; climate science; emissions trading; and the social impacts of climate change policy. It will produce annual reports outlining the UK's progress towards its budgets and targets.

Changes to the 2050 and 2018-2022 targets will require parliamentary approval and will only be approved under two circumstances: changing scientific knowledge about climate change; and international law and policy that requires the UK to act differently. Failure to achieve targets or stay within the budgets (allowing for an ability to borrow1% from the subsequent budget period) would leave the Government open to judicial review.


"Urban sprawl" causes warming too!

Greenies loathe "sprawl". That's what all their failed "smart growth" nonsense is about. So some NASA scientists are using warming data to knock sprawl too. They are correct in identifying heat island effects for a rise in recorded temperatures but are entirely illogical in blaming the recorded rises on "sprawl". Sprawl should REDUCE the heat island effects by spreading settlement more widely. What they REALLY mean, I guess, is that it's all those nasty PEOPLE who are to blame. Post below lifted from Pasadena Pundit

This past week NASA issued a news release of a study "Recent California Climate Variability" reported in many California newspapers (e.g. here) and posted widely on many online websites (e.g. here).

The co-authors of the climate study, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Bill Patzert and Cal State University Los Angeles' Professor Steve LaDochy, are quoted in the newspaper as attributing the warming trend to urban sprawl and the urban heat island effect.

"According to the analysis of more than 330 weather stations, California's average temperature has increased 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 50 years, said JPL climatologist Bill Patzert. Perhaps even more striking, though, is the impact that urban sprawl has contributed to the temperatures - even more than global warming, Patzert said."

The conclusion that California climate warming is due to urban sprawl appears contradicted by the news release and the abstract of the study by Patzert and LaDochy released by NASA, which "found a strong correlation between air temperatures and Pacific coastal sea surface temperatures."

So if the correlation to coast sea surface temperatures is strong, are we to deduce that the correlation to other causes such as urbanization and sprawl was weak? Then why report it? And of what real importance is it to state that an analysis of more than 330 weather stations indicates California's average temperature has increased 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 50 years due to urban sprawl? Wouldn't State temperature readings be expected to rise over 50 years weather stations which may have been located in orange groves transitioned to subdivisions with concrete roadways which absorb heat? Are most of these temperature recording stations located on CalTrans freeway rights of ways which reflect the radiant heat of the concrete?

A prior study by Patzert and LaDochy attributed California weather variation to the "Pacific Decadal Oscillation" (PDO), which may last decades, rather than the ocean current El Nino effect, which is of shorter duration. Interestingly, neither Patzert or LaDochy claim urban sprawl was a significant factor in climate change in this earlier study.

Neither do Patzert and LaDochy say why the "cold phase" of the "Pacific Decadal Oscillation" which occurred from 1950 to 1976, was unconnected to urban sprawl, when Los Angeles arguably was building more houses and removing more orange groves than today.

The claim that the average annual minimum temperature increased 9 degrees (Fahrenheit) since 1878 at the Los Angeles Civic Center is a gross exaggeration and distortion. As even JPL's Bill Patzert admits in another unmentioned NASA news release, the move of the central Los Angeles weather station from the Civic Center to the campus of the University of Southern California (about 4 miles) in 1999 can attribute for most of the huge climate change. See here.

Another climate researcher connected with the recent NASA study is quoted as making an apocalyptic statement which no reputable scientist should ever make:

"The one reason I stayed on is because I've got seven grandkids, and I know how bad it could get," said Tim Barnett, a researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego. 'By the time they're my age, L.A., Phoenix and Sacramento could be ghost towns."

Despite public funding by NASA, the authors have shrouded their full study and the data by publishing it in the Journal of Climate Research, which is available to subscribers only for a fee of 585 euros. See here.

If the public paid for this study shouldn't it have free access to the data and the full report for public inspection? If the Federal Freedom of Information Act is to be complied with, how does one get a copy of this study without having to pay an exorbitant sum for it? Where is the outrage by the local newspapers and civil rights advocacy organizations? Newspapers should have an ethical obligation not to report scientific studies which are not fully available to the public. But don't expect this any time soon.

A rule should prevail here. Any purported scientific study, especially about the politically-charged topic of global warming, which does not make the full study, including the data, available for public review should not be considered credible. This is an ongoing problem with global warming studies, especially those by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see here). And newspapers which report such shrouded studies should only be considered as tabloids.

Another interesting observation is that meteorologists and academic climate change scientists differ greatly over whether there is or isn't global warming. Most meteorologists, whose livelihoods are not dependent on research grants, say there is not sufficient proof of global warming. While academic climate scientists, whose livelihoods depend on research grants, generally assert there is global warming and sub-regional warming caused by urban sprawl. So we're not measuring a "climate variable" as much as a "sociological variable." See here and here.

Stern words, but short shrift for the economics of climate change

By Australian economics journalist Terry McCrann

BRITISH economist Sir Nicholas Stern made a flying visit to Australia last week. Via, apparently, South Africa, India and Indonesia. So much for carbon-neutral burning the oil at midnight, and all the other hours through the day.

Sir Nicholas is the putative author of the 700-page The Stern Review, the Economics of Climate Change, which purports to establish the world will be better off pre-emptively reducing carbon-based greenhouse gas emissions, than living with them. That's, to stress, establish supposedly in entirely unemotional analytical terms. Its bottom line: cutting emissions will cost 1 per cent of global GDP. It will "save" somewhere between 5 and 20 per cent of global GDP.

Yet, in watching Sir Nicholas at the National Press Club and reading the reports of his press interviews, he had almost nothing to say about the economics of climate change. Instead it was almost all about the science. What increased concentrations of greenhouse gases would purportedly do to temperatures, to weather, and so on. Intriguingly, at one point, musing that it almost always involved water.

One of two ways he came closest to talking about his own speciality, the only reason he is "in the discussion" at all, was to prophesy massive population shifts. In other words, it was all boilerplate preaching from another High Priest in the First Church of Climate Apocalypse. Repent of your emissions and you will be saved.

Now this is not another bleat from a so-called "climate sceptic". But a critique of Stern specifically in his/its own (purported) terms. What we saw was that Stern in person was as empty of any serious economic analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as his review was in 700 pages. Indeed, for the purpose of the discussion, assume that everything predicted about temperatures and climate was likely to prove correct. One can't say accurate because the ranges of possible outcomes are so wide as to be almost analytically useless.

What would you then expect from an economist? To take that foundation and first, analyse the costs and benefits of the outcomes. With appropriate ranges to reflect the range of outcome uncertainties. To take one example: global temperature up, say, 2 degrees. What are the costs and, yes, the benefits of that? It might be easier to understand that there really are benefits from a warmer world if you lived in Moscow than in Manila. But there are, and they need to be netted out against the costs.

Let us assume the alarmists are right and the costs far outweigh the benefits; the net costs will still be something less. Critically, these should only be the economic costs. It's not for Stern the economist to "value" that a hotter Manila or a stormier Brisbane would be "unpleasant". His only analytical concern should be any economic consequences, including measurable externalities. To incorporate anything else is to pollute, and so fundamentally compromise, the economic analysis. Indeed, it builds in a self-reinforcing feedback bias. Hotter is economically bad. The world is getting hotter. So does that have good or bad economic consequences? Why, bad.

Then an economist, working off the net costs (or benefits), would analyse the net, to stress again, economic costs of cutting emissions. And compare that net cost with the first net cost. That would "tell" you whether the cost of cutting emissions was worth the cost of avoiding their consequences.

Two other points need to be made. You have to incorporate the ranges in the analysis; and weight them relative to likelihood, and to risk. And you also have to adjust for different time periods. The costs of cutting emissions come now and in the near future; the costs of the consequences come later, perhaps much later. Hence the need to discount those future costs of climate change back to today, to measure directly against the costs of cutting emissions.

Now the economist has to turn a blind eye to those broader issues. Otherwise you won't get robust information on which to base either subjective or objective decisions. Objective: maybe it is economically better to live with a 2 per cent hotter world, and deal with the consequences. Because net-net we would be better off. But then it would be perfectly appropriate to make the subjective judgment: no, 2 per cent is non-negotiable. Yes, we will take a second-best economic outcome. But we will do so with our eyes open and fully understanding what we are doing.

This is critically important in another way. Properly informed, you might decide to live with a half-way outcome. To opt for, say, 1 per cent in temperature and less damage to the global economy.

Now the trade-off highlighted at the start would suggest the Stern Review does this, and the bottom line is so overwhelmingly favourable to action against emissions that it must cover the range of uncertainties. One per cent versus 20 per cent could live with a huge adjustment. It does no such thing. It is fundamentally compromised because the analysis builds in the climate theology. But in any event the analysis itself is seriously flawed. As a distinguished panel of economists has demonstrated in a punishing shredding of the economics of the review.

The panel included the former chief economist at the OECD, David Henderson, our former chief statistician, Ian Castles, and the biographer of Keynes and distinguished economist in his own right, Robert Skidelsky. Their withering analysis, published in World Economics, concluded Stern was deeply flawed. "It does not provide a basis for informed and responsible policies." The single most damming flaw was Stern's choice of a discount rate to "value" those future climate benefits in present terms. Just 2.1 per cent. A statement essentially of climate hysteria. Even more damming, it was not actually disclosed in the review. A statement essentially of guilt.

Stern in person rather embarrassingly confirmed the review's flaws - and his own theological hysteria - with his second venture towards economics in his Press Club appearance. Explaining why the developed world had to take most of the carbon cuts - by between 60 and 90 per cent - and so the reduction in economic growth, he said inter alia, that the developing world like China and India had to be allowed to "catch up". To have their economic growth.

In very simple terms, were the developed world to seriously cut carbon and growth, the developing world would not have its growth. China is only growing at 10 per cent-plus because of its access to the US and other developed country markets. You would expect a former World Bank economist to know that access to our growing markets is the absolute foundation of 4 billion people moving out of poverty, disease and early death. Cutting carbon emissions might make an "apocalyptic churchgoer" like Stern feel purer. It will have a much more salutary impact on the people of those countries he has recently been flying over.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


2 April, 2007


An email below from Prof. Ernst Beck [] regarding his recent paper on CO2:

Additional to my paper "180 Years of atmospheric CO2 Gas Analysis by Chemical Methods" in ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT VOLUME 18 No. 2 2007 I want to give you access to a supplementing webpage with the most important historical resources. See here. Because of explosive content of my paper let me give you some further comments.

It's clear that it is not possible to reconstruct 150 years of scientific evolution concerning one subject thoroughly in 20 pages. This is the main difference to other papers concerning one single problem. I had to sample, evaluate and select hundreds of problems. Therefore my selection out of available data can always be criticized with all possible arguments.

For this reason the online support should serve as a first help before projected publication of the monograph with all inspected sources. So perhaps you realize that my paper is only a first sign of pointing to those "forgotten data". Your work will start right here. Probably you also agree that my paper is not in first place a climate paper, it's a chemical paper, because most historic resources are written by chemists.

As a biochemist I feel much more connected to CO2 as a climate scientist because of CO2 being an essential substance for all living things. Modern propagated image of carbon dioxide as a climate killer contradicts natural importance (biology, chemistry, medicine, nutrition science) in total.

Looking at history of modern natural science and measuring CO2 we see a timeline of two lines of arguments:

1. a 200 hundred year period of consecutive evolving natural science establishing most modern knowledge and laws of nature ( honoured by dozends of NOBEL awards in 20th century)

2. a 60 year period of climate science in parallel to (1) establishing a different, contradicting view of CO2 in nature with no real knowledge but most hypothesis and speculations.

Viewed from point 2 my paper is junk science. Viewed from a scientific point we have to evaluate verify and falsify both lines and join them together without excluding one or both a priori at the base of laws of nature.

Prof Beck is at Merian-Schule Freiburg Dep. Biotechnology and Nutrition Science 79104 Freiburg Rheinstr. 3 Germany

You would never guess from the latest nonsense below that plants THRIVE with more warmth and more CO2

Nor would you guess that warmer seas give off more water vapour and hence lead to MORE rain overall. Nor would you guess that life THRIVED during earlier warm periods in the earth's past. This nonsense ignores basic science

EQUATORIAL lands that are home to hundreds of millions of people will become uninhabitable as food and water run out due to climate change, scientists will warn this week. A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to be published on Friday, will warn that the temperature rises of 2-3C predicted by 2050 spell global disaster for both humanity and the environment.

It will say that up to 40% of animal and plant species face extinction as rising temperatures destroy the ecosystems that support them. And it will point out that the 29 billion tons of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere each year are acidifying the oceans – threatening to destroy coral reefs, plankton and many commercial fish species.

By the middle of the century, the report will warn, more than 200m people could have been forced from their native lands by rising sea levels, floods and droughts, with many more facing early deaths from malnutrition and heat stress.

The report comes amid government embarrassment over the latest figures for Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions. Last week David Miliband, the environment secretary, admitted they had risen by 1.5% last year despite repeated Labour pledges to cut them.

“The picture that emerges from the research is quite appalling,” said Rachel Warren, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and one of the IPCC’s senior authors. “It is just horrendous realising what damage climate change can do to ecosystems.”

The IPCC report is a collation of the best peer-reviewed scientific research into the impact of climate change, published over the past five years or so. It will say that many of the worst effects on humans will be caused by water – or lack of it – in the form of floods, drought, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and ocean acidification.

Nearly a third of the world’s land surface may be at risk of extreme drought by 2099,[What? With warmer seas giving off more water vapour??] compared with about 1%. Such a change would destroy farmland and water resources and lead to mass migrations of “environmental refugees”.

The IPCC will also warn that the Amazon rainforest could be in danger. Professor Diana Liverman, director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, said the region was already experiencing an alarming reduction in rain. “The warming of the oceans seems to be changing the water cycle,” she said. In lands close to the equator, especially in Africa, declining crop yields could leave hundreds of millions of people unable to grow food.

In Europe, one of the most obvious early impacts will be the destruction of Alpine ski resorts, with about 70% losing snow cover by 2050. The IPCC will say it is “too late” to avert some degree of climate change. It will call on humanity to cooperate on adapting to the changes – while trying to limit them by cutting emissions.



Britain is looking for a way to tackle imports of biofuels from the United States which it believes will undermine the commercial case for European production, UK transport minister Stephen Ladyman said. "People who are being subsidised to produce renewable fuels in the United States are now planning to export that fuel to Europe where they hope to get a second subsidy when it is sold in Europe," he said. "That is undermining the commercial case for investment in Europe. It is one of the things that we have got to try and sort out," he told a conference organised by biofuels industry lobby group, the Environmental Industries Commission.

The United States has seen rapid growth in its bioethanol industry, boosted by strong goverment support motivated by a desire for energy security. European biodiesel makers have made the same complaint to Brussels -- that increasing sales of US biodiesel are being made in the EU with the help of unfair subsidies.

Britain offers tax incentives for motor fuels which contain biofuels as part of its effort to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases which are believed to contribute to global warming. The incentive is provided to both domestically produced and imported biofuels. Bioethanol, which is usually blended with petrol, can be made from grains or sugar crops. The US and Brazil are the world's two leading producers of bioethanol. Britain currently has no significant bioethanol plants although many are planned. It currently imports much of its bioethanol from Brazil.



Back to pre-industrial wood-burning -- with all that lovely smoke pollution! Greenies running around in circles yet again

Britain hopes to slash carbon emissions by burning more home-grown wood under a new government plan announced on Wednesday. The Forestry Commission's Woodfuel Strategy for England aims to make 2 million tonnes a year more wood available for fuel by 2020 through better forest management and support. Burning this much wood, equal to about 3.6 million barrels of oil a year, should avoid an estimated 400,000 tonnes of carbon annually, biodiversity minister Barry Gardiner said. "Using wood instead of fossil fuels means that sustainably managed woodland can be a significant resource for a low-carbon economy," Gardiner said in a statement.

Wood production in England will have to increase by 60 percent to achieve the target and current wood supply chains are not capable of getting that much material to market, the Forestry Commission said in its report. The carbon released into the atmosphere by burning wood is partially absorbed by growing more trees, which means lowering emissions from the energy sector compared to coal, gas or oil.

Rather than importing other biofuels, which can come from environmentally-questionable sources, Britain should use its own woodland areas in an environmentally sustainable way, the plan's backers say. The Forestry Commission, which manages more than a million hectares of UK woodland, says more investment is needed to get the woodfuel market working more efficiently.

The government has set a domestic target to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2010 and 60 percent by 2050 and the biggest contribution biomass can make to that goal is through heat generation, the Commission said. Unlike some European countries where communal heating systems are widely used, making the switch to biomass fairly cheap and easy, British homes are nearly all heated individually with gas, coal or oil. This is a major obstacle to the growth of biomass heating and support from government is needed to ensure dirty fossil fuel boilers are replaced with wood-burning ones quickly enough to establish effective supply chains, the Commission said. Currently, biomass provides 3 percent of UK energy needs.


Climate doomsayers all at sea

Comment from popular Australian columnist Piers Akerman

Around 18,000 years ago, what is now Sydney Harbour was about 15km inshore of the coastline, and the sea level was at its lowest point, about 120m below the present sea level. The site of the Opera House, on Bennelong Point, was almost midway between the beach and Homebush, and South Head was midway between the Opera House and the coast. According to the Australian Museum, the sea reached its present level about 6000 years ago.

So, the sea level rose one metre every 100 years from its low point to the current level during that period. Not evenly, on a couple of occasions the sea rose several metres in very short periods - over a few decades. At other times, things stalled. But the worst-case scenario posed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which now has the worry warts twisting their knickers so anxiously, has sea level rising about 0.3m per 100 years, about a third of the rise known to have occurred in the relatively recent past. And they blame it all on Man!

There is an old joke about the smartest invention in the world, and one fellow says he believes it is the thermos flask because in winter it keeps hot food hot and in summer it keeps cold drinks cold. "Now, how does it know that?" he asks. Well, how do the experts know that Man is responsible for the current changes in climate?

Answer: they don't. They're guessing, and they are dressing up their guesses with computer modelling which is so unreliable that it can't even predict with any great success what the weather will be next year.

It's a jolly good thing there were no computer modellers around to scare the pants off the Sydney locals (had they been wearing pants) 16,000 years ago, and warn them to stop cooking their fish and goannas over carbon-emitting campfires, to throw away their fire sticks and eat their possum raw and like it. As for the pollution caused by the so-called science of fire-stick farming, forget it! Those bushfires every year must have sent the CO2 levels rocketing.

Or wasn't global warming responsible for the rising sea levels? If it wasn't, what was? And why were the sea levels sinking the beachside suburbs of the period three times faster than anything we face today ? It is easy to be afraid listening to Al Gore, Nicholas Stern and Tim Flannery, but it is difficult not to be concerned once their theories are questioned. The IPCC has long predicted that climate change was going to bring about more violent weather events than we have experienced, but that ignores the record in both hemispheres.

In our neighbourhood, however, the IPCC is quite specific. It says Australia will be hit by more frequent and intense heatwaves, bushfires, floods, drought and landslides as global warming sends temperatures soaring this century. Oh yeah? Temperatures in the southern hemisphere haven't altered in 25 years and, according to the records, the global temperature has been stationary since 1998.

What the scaremongers don't explain is that the temperature is measured on the Earth's surface, by balloons rising through the atmosphere and from satellites which look at particular molecular structures as they circle the globe. The purest of these is the satellite measurement because it is least affected by incidental events, but all of the above show that southern hemisphere temperatures haven't altered significantly over the past 25 years, despite the computer modelling which shows that the less polluted hemisphere should have become warmer than the northern hemisphere, which is shielded by particulate matter.

In fact, the compilers of the most recent IPCC report had to slash estimates of global temperature rises by nearly one third. Sane scientists, who are not chasing the climate-change dollar, joke that if this trend continues, the IPCC will be predicting another ice age within 10 years. Whoops! There were scientists pandering to the market for gloom and doom 30 years ago who were predicting a coming ice age. Lesson: hang on to that heavy overcoat.

The Great Barrier Reef is also under threat, and even though the greatest damage done in recent times was caused by an inundation of fresh water from a cloud burst, this dire warning ignores the reality that corals have lived in warmer seas than we now have, and overlooks the fact that they adjust. OK, the fossil coral outcrops metres above sea level didn't make the cut but, then again, the Great Barrier Reef was once a plain with no coral at all.

Those running around with their petticoats pulled firmly over their heads don't want to know that the Romans grew wine grapes in Britain, that Greenland got its name because it used to be warm enough for farmers, or that the Earth's climate has always been changeable. But they claim to have science on their side. Then so, too, did all those who thought Y2K - the Millennium Bug - was going to wipe out civilisation as we know it. There is a debate to be had, but it serves no one if those promoting fear are resorting to pseudo-science and questionable modelling to make their case.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 April, 2007


And the data remains unavailable to this day!

One of the most important IPCC representations is the supposedly tremendous quality control of its review process. I've mentioned in passing on a number of occasions that, when I sought to obtain supporting data for then unpublished articles, IPCC threatened to expel me as a reviewer. I've had a few requests to recount my experience with trying to get data from IPCC for unpublished studies. So here's a short summary of my correspondence with IPCC.

On August 1, 2005, I was invited by IPCC to act as a reviewer. (I guess this makes me one of the 2500 scientists who support IPCC conclusions, although my review comments have all been ignored as far as I can tell.) "You have been nominated to serve as an Expert Reviewer for the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. The first draft of this report will be available for expert review from Friday, 9 September 2005, with all review comments due by Friday, 4 November 2005."

I accepted. In September 2005, I noticed that the Paleoclimate chapter cited two then unpublished studies by D'Arrigo et al (later D'Arrigo et al 2006) and Hegerl et al (later Hegerl et al J Clim 2006). In order to carry out my responsibilities as a reviewer, I wanted to see the supporting data for these studies and I accordingly wrote to the IPCC Technical Services Unit at UCAR in Boulder on Sep 20, 2005 as follows: "I have been unable to locate supplementary information or data archives for several of the articles posted at the pdf location for Chapter 6 and would appreciate assistance in this regard.

1) Hegerl et al, submitted. Can you provide me with an ftp location for the proxy data used in this study (which does not even list the proxies used) or post it at your website.

2) D'Arrigo et al, submitted. Again, this data has not been archived at WDCP. Can you provide me with an ftp location for the proxy data used in this study or post it at your website."

On Sep 22, 2005, Martin Manning of the IPCC/UCAR TSU wrote back refusing to provide this data in the following terms: "It is normal practice that expert reviewers of scientific works check the references given and the way they are used. We certainly expect this during the review of the first draft of our report and are grateful that you have identified an issue that the authors will need to deal with in the next draft if that can not be done now.

The second issue is availability of data used in cited literature. As you have recognized some of this is available at data centers. Often the original authors of the cited papers will release their data on request. However, the IPCC process assesses published literature, it does not involve carrying out research, nor do we have the mandate or resources to operate as a clearing house for the massive amounts of data that are used in the climate science community or referred to in the literature used by our authors. Given the many different approaches to intellectual property and data release in different countries and agencies such an undertaking would in any case not be possible."

I was obviously unsatisfied with their failure to provide supporting data and re-iterated my request for supporting data as follows: "My request for data pertains to two papers which are presently unpublished and for which the data is unarchived. One of the papers does not even list the data used. I request that you simply contact the authors who submitted the articles in question and ask him/her to provide an FTP location for the data so that it can be reviewed. The request can be made through a simple email and does not require resources beyond those available to you. You could have submitted the request as quickly as it took you to draft your reply to me. If the authors refuse to provide their data pursuant to a request from you, then that would be a factor in my review, as it should be for IPCC itself, as to whether the article should be referenced by IPCC."

The next day, Sep 23, 2005, Manning made the following shirty reply: "Let me repeat - If you wish to obtain data used in a paper then you should make a direct request to the original authors yourself. It would be inappropriate for the IPCC to become involved in that communication and I have no intention of allowing the IPCC support unit to provide you with what would in effect be a secretarial service. There are over 1200 other scientists on our list of reviewers and we simply can not get involved in providing special services for each. I gave you the courtesy of a detailed response earlier to ensure there was no confusion about our process which is my responsibility. Acting as an intermediary with other scientists is not. I will not be responding to further correspondence on this matter." ...


Does CO2 really drive global warming?

I don’t believe that it does. To the contrary, if you apply the IFF test—if-and-only-if or necessary-and-sufficient—the outcome would appear to be exactly the reverse. Rather than the rising levels of carbon dioxide driving up the temperature, the logical conclusion is that it is the rising temperature that is driving up the CO2 level. Of course, this raises a raft of questions, but they are all answerable. What is particularly critical is distinguishing between the observed phenomenon, or the “what”, from the governing mechanism, or the “why”. Confusion between these two would appear to be the source of much of the noise in the global warming debate.

In applying the IFF test, we can start with the clear correlation between the global CO2 profile and the corresponding temperature signature. There is now in the literature the report of a 400,000-year sequence clearly showing, as a phenomenon, that they go up—and down—together (1). The correlation is clear and accepted. But the causation, the mechanism, is something else: Which is driving which?

Logically, there are four possible explanations, but only two need serious consideration, unless they both fail.

Both appear at first to be possible, but both then generate crucial origin and supplementary questions. For Case 1, the origin question is: What is the independent source of CO2 that drives the CO2 level both up and down, and which in turn, somehow, is presumed to drive the temperature up and down? For Case 2, it is: What drives the temperature, and if this then drives the CO2, where does the CO2 come from? For Case 2, the questions are answerable; but for Case 1, they are not.

Consider Case 2. This directly introduces global warming behavior. Is global warming, as a separate and independent phenomenon, in progress? The answer, as I heard it in geology class 50 years ago, was “yes”, and I have seen nothing since then to contradict that position. To the contrary, as further support, there is now documentation (that was only fragmentary 50 years ago) of an 850,000-year global-temperature sequence, showing that the temperature is oscillating with a period of 100,000 years, and with an amplitude that has risen, in that time, from about 5 °F at the start to about 10 °F “today” (meaning the latest 100,000-year period) (2). We are currently in a rise that started 25,000 years ago and, reasonably, can be expected to peak “very shortly”.

On the shorter timescales of 1000 years and 100 years, further temperature oscillations can be seen, but of much smaller amplitude, down to 1 and 0.5 °F in those two cases. Nevertheless, the overall trend is clearly up, even through the Little Ice Age (~1350–1900) following the Medieval Warm Period. So the global warming phenomenon is here, with a very long history, and we are in it. But what is the driver?

Arctic Ocean model

The postulated driver, or mechanism, developed some 30 years ago to account for the “million-year” temperature oscillations, is best known as the “Arctic Ocean” model (2). According to this model, the temperature variations are driven by an oscillating ice cap in the northern polar regions. The crucial element in the conceptual formulation of this mechanism was the realization that such a massive ice cap could not have developed, and then continued to expand through that development, unless there was a major source of moisture close by to supply, maintain, and extend the cap. The only possible moisture source was then identified as the Arctic Ocean, which, therefore, had to be open—not frozen over—during the development of the ice ages. It then closed again, interrupting the moisture supply by freezing over.

So the model we now have is that if the Arctic Ocean is frozen over, as is the case today, the existing ice cap is not being replenished and must shrink, as it is doing today. As it does so, the Earth can absorb more of the Sun’s radiation and therefore will heat up—global warming—as it is doing today, so long as the Arctic Ocean is closed. When it is warm enough for the ocean to open, which oceanographic (and media) reports say is evidently happening right now, then the ice cap can begin to re-form.

As it expands, the ice increasingly reflects the incoming (shorter-wave) radiation from the sun, so that the atmosphere cools at first. But then, the expanding ice cap reduces the radiative (longer-wave) loss from the Earth, acting as an insulator, so that the Earth below cools more slowly and can keep the ocean open as the ice cap expands. This generates “out-of-sync” oscillations between atmosphere and Earth. The Arctic Ocean “trip” behavior at the temperature extremes, allowing essentially discontinuous change in direction of the temperature, is identified as a bifurcation system with potential for analysis as such. The suggested trip times for the change are interesting: They were originally estimated at about 500 years, then reduced to 50 years and, most recently, down to 5 years (2). So, if the ocean is opening right now, we could possibly start to see the temperature reversal under way in about 10 years.

What we have here is a sufficient mechanistic explanation for the dominant temperature fluctuations and, particularly, for the current global warming rise—without the need for CO2 as a driver. Given that pattern, the observed CO2 variations then follow, as a driven outcome, mainly as the result of change in the dynamic equilibrium between the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and its solution in the sea. The numbers are instructive. In 1995, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data on the carbon balance showed ~90 gigatons (Gt) of carbon in annual quasi-equilibrium exchange between sea and atmosphere, and an additional 60-Gt exchange between vegetation and atmosphere, giving a total of ~150 Gt (3). This interpretation of the sea as the major source is also in line with the famous Mauna Loa CO2 profile for the past 40 years, which shows the consistent season-dependent variation of 5–6 ppm, up and down, throughout the year—when the average global rise is only 1 ppm/year.

In the literature, this oscillation is attributed to seasonal growing behavior on the “mainland” (4), which is mostly China, >2000 mi away, but no such profile with that amplitude is known to have been reported at any mainland location. Also, the amplitude would have to fall because of turbulent diffusive exchange during transport over the 2000 mi from the mainland to Hawaii, but again there is lack of evidence for such behavior. The fluctuation can, however, be explained simply from study of solution equilibria of CO2 in water as due to emission of CO2 from and return to the sea around Hawaii governed by a ±10 °F seasonal variation in the sea temperature.

Impact of industrialization

The next matter is the impact of fossil fuel combustion. Returning to the IPCC data and putting a rational variation as noise of ~5 Gt on those numbers, this float is on the order of the additional—almost trivial (<5%)—annual contribution of 5–6 Gt from combustion of fossil fuels. This means that fossil fuel combustion cannot be expected to have any significant influence on the system unless, to introduce the next point of focus, the radiative balance is at some extreme or bifurcation point that can be tripped by “small” concentration changes in the radiation-absorbing–emitting gases in the atmosphere. Can that include CO2?

This now starts to address the necessity or “only-if” elements of the problem. The question focuses on whether CO2 in the atmosphere can be a dominant, or “only-if” radiative-balance gas, and the answer to that is rather clearly “no”. The detailed support for that statement takes the argument into some largely esoteric areas of radiative behavior, including the analytical solution of the Schuster–Schwarzschild Integral Equation of Transfer that governs radiative exchange (5–7), but the outcome is clear.

The central point is that the major absorbing gas in the atmosphere is water, not CO2, and although CO2 is the only other significant atmospheric absorbing gas, it is still only a minor contributor because of its relatively low concentration. The radiative absorption “cross sections” for water and CO2 are so similar that their relative influence depends primarily on their relative concentrations. Indeed, although water actually absorbs more strongly, for many engineering calculations the concentrations of the two gases are added, and the mixture is treated as a single gas.

In the atmosphere, the molar concentration of CO2 is in the range of 350–400 ppm. Water, on the other hand, has a very large variation but, using the “60/60” (60% relative humidity [RH] at 60 °F) value as an average, then from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers standard psychrometric chart, the weight ratio of water to (dry) air is ~0.0065, or roughly 10,500 ppm. Compared with CO2, this puts water, on average, at 25–30 times the (molar) concentration of the CO2, but it can range from a 1:1 ratio to >100:1.

Even closer focus on water is given by solution of the Schuster–Schwarzschild equation applied to the U.S. Standard Atmosphere profiles for the variation of temperature, pressure, and air density with elevation (8). The results show that the average absorption coefficient obtained for the atmosphere closely corresponds to that for the 5.6–7.6-µm water radiation band, when water is in the concentration range 60–80% RH—on target for atmospheric conditions. The absorption coefficient is 1–2 orders of magnitude higher than the coefficient values for the CO2 bands at a concentration of 400 ppm. This would seem to eliminate CO2 and thus provide closure to that argument.

This overall position can be summarized by saying that water accounts, on average, for >95% of the radiative absorption. And, because of the variation in the absorption due to water variation, anything future increases in CO2 might do, water will already have done. The common objection to this argument is that the wide fluctuations in water concentration make an averaging (for some reason) impermissible. Yet such averaging is applied without objection to global temperatures, when the actual temperature variation across the Earth from poles to equator is roughly –100 to +100 °F, and a change on the average of ±1 °F is considered major and significant. If this averaging procedure can be applied to the atmospheric temperature, it can be applied to the atmospheric water content; and if it is denied for water, it must, likewise, be denied for temperature—in that case we don’t have an identified problem!

What the evidence shows

So what we have on the best current evidence is that

The outcome is that the conclusions of advocates of the CO2-driver theory are evidently back to front: It’s the temperature that is driving the CO2. If there are flaws in these propositions, I’m listening; but if there are objections, let’s have them with the numbers.

  1. Sigman, M.; Boyle, E. A. Nature 2000, 407, 859–869.
  2. Calder, N. The Weather Machine; Viking Press: New York, 1974.
  3. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change; Houghton, J. T., Meira Filho, L. G., Callender, B. A., Harris, N., Kattenberg, A., Maskell, K., Eds.; Cam bridge University Press: Cambridge, U.K., 1996.
  4. Hileman, B. Chem. Eng. News 1992, 70 (17), 7–19.
  5. Schuster, A. Astrophysics J. 1905, 21, 1–22.
  6. Schwarzschild, K. Gesell. Wiss. Gottingen; Nachr. Math.–Phys. Klasse 1906, 41.
  7. Schwarzschild, K. Berliner Ber. Math. Phys. Klasse 1914, 1183.
  8. Essenhigh, R. H. On Radiative Transfer in Solids. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Thermophysics Specialist Conference, New Orleans, April 17–20, 1967; Paper 67-287; American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics: Reston, VA, 1967.

The author above, Robert H. Essenhigh is the E. G. Bailey Professor of Energy Conversion in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ohio State University, 206 W. 18th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210; 614-292-0403;


Water Vapor Rules the Greenhouse System

Just how much of the Greenhouse Effect is caused by human activity? It is about 0.28%, if water vapor is taken into account-- about 5.53%, if not. This point is so crucial to the debate over global warming that how water vapor is or isn't factored into an analysis of Earth's greenhouse gases makes the difference between describing a significant human contribution to the greenhouse effect, or a negligible one.

Water vapor constitutes Earth's most significant greenhouse gas, accounting for about 95% of Earth's greenhouse effect (4). Interestingly, many "facts and figures' regarding global warming completely ignore the powerful effects of water vapor in the greenhouse system, carelessly (perhaps, deliberately) overstating human impacts as much as 20-fold.

Water vapor is 99.999% of natural origin. Other atmospheric greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and miscellaneous other gases (CFC's, etc.), are also mostly of natural origin (except for the latter, which is mostly anthropogenic).

Human activites contribute slightly to greenhouse gas concentrations through farming, manufacturing, power generation, and transportation. However, these emissions are so dwarfed in comparison to emissions from natural sources we can do nothing about, that even the most costly efforts to limit human emissions would have a very small-- perhaps undetectable-- effect on global climate.



Democrats in Congress have packed $20 billion of pork into the Iraq war spending bill, so why not lard on an all-politics solution to securing the nation's chemical facilities.

"Toxic" chemicals, as aficionados of endless political crusades know, have been a target of the environmental left for decades. After 9/11, they saw an opportunity. They've argued that the path to chemical security lies in requiring the industry to use "inherently safer technologies." Guess what "inherently safer" means: Banning some chemicals or requiring substitutes.

The substances greens consider most "unsafe" happen to be the ones they've been trying to eliminate for years, for reasons having nothing to do with terrorists. Inconveniently, most of these chemicals, such as chlorine, serve vital public-health purposes and have no substitutes. Opposed to this one-size-fits-all mandate for an entire industry stands the Department of Homeland Security. Late last year it issued broad draft regulations that laid out stringent standards for chemical-plant security, but gave companies flexibility to decide how to meet those standards.

This approach makes sense, because what we call the "chemical industry" is, like chemistry itself, various and complex. Different companies specialize in different chemicals, which have different security risks. Since 9/11, the industry has spent more than $3.5 billion on security measures. Rather than force each firm to start over with straight-jacket procedures, the Administration would build on the industry's specialized knowledge, giving it the freedom to develop innovative solutions.

Up to now, the green groups have had no success getting the government or previous Republican Congress to buy into banning chemicals to achieve "inherently safer" technologies. So they turned to the states. Three -- New Jersey, New York and Maryland -- have developed chemical security programs. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who as a Senator led an unsuccessful chemical-ban charge, is pushing to require facilities in his state to use "inherently safer" technologies.

The greens' banning-as-security strategy in the states has hit a snag: Homeland Security's draft regulations reserve the right of the federal government to pre-empt state laws in certain situations. The argument for pre-emption is national security, as with port or airline security. But after years of siccing the Environmental Protection Agency on their targets, the greens have turned to the new Democratic majority to give them "federalism."

And so a provision in last week's House Iraq war supplemental would block DHS from approving a chemical facility plan unless it "exceeds" state standards. New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg has included a provision that gives states the right to go beyond the federal government.

Let's hope Senate Republicans get these chemical provisions excised from the final war-spending bill. Homeland Security is within two weeks of issuing its final rules. Throwing a monkeywrench now will merely guarantee more years of wrangling over chemical security rules that should have been settled long ago. If greens and Democrats want to rid the world of chemicals for environmental reasons, then engage in an open debate about the pros and cons rather than waving "terror" as a ruse.


Some lightweight environmentalism in Australia

Many Australians want to feel they are doing something about global warming, but mere tokenism is alive and well

ABOUT dinnertime tonight, thousands of households have promised to turn off their electric lights for an hour as a symbol of their personal commitment to reduce the risk of climate change. Earth Hour is the brainchild of environment group WWF-Australia, which has joined forces with the Fairfax newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald -- but apparently not The Age in Melbourne -- for the latest in a series of feel-good campaigns pitched at engaging middle Australia on the hot issue in the environment debate. It's like a telethon where you don't have to donate money: all Sydneysiders are being asked to do is turn off their lights between 7.30pm and 8.30pm to "demonstrate how simple actions can make a world of difference if everyone takes part". The Australian Conservation Foundation has teamed with Channel7 for Lights Off Australia, which asks Australians on the first Wednesday of each month to turn off lights overnight that aren't needed.

Sydney's Earth Hour tonight is, by design, an act of mass symbolism. Separating genuine participants from those going out to dinner or watching the Sydney Swans, Waratahs or red-hot Rabbitohs may be more problematic. The emissions reductions from even half of Sydney going without lights for an hour will be almost indiscernible. WWF-Australia chief executive Greg Bourne has been campaigning for months to sell the event, and says its purpose is to sustain pressure on governments rather than deliver big cuts in emissions. If the idea is to galvanise public support, Earth Hour is already too late.

Yesterday the Climate Institute issued the latest in a series of reports on the attitude of Australians to climate change policy. Its survey of 1000 people last weekend claims 80per cent support for a government plan to cut greenhouse pollution with enforceable targets for 2020 and 2050. The report, which neatly sidesteps issues related to the cost of such reforms, also says Australians understand climate change is already happening and are particularly concerned about water resources and the impact of water restrictions.

This follows the release of a global survey by the Lowy Institute this month, revealing widespread agreement among communities across the world that climate change is a pressing problem. Twelve countries, including Australia, were asked whether steps should be taken to address climate change, and all but one of them favoured action. Australia reported the largest majority in favour of measures to combat global warming (92 per cent). "But awareness is not action," Bourne says. "Awareness and action is what really matters. The Government has been aware of these issues for a long time, and ... have taken very little action, even though their rhetoric says they have taken a lot."

Bourne defends the highly symbolic campaign, rejecting the idea that it risks trivialising the scale and complexity of the multi-trillion-dollar global economic and technological challenge by simply encouraging people to switch off their lights. "People know intuitively that changing a light bulb helps, but it doesn't do it. "They require governments to lead, they are demanding of government and business to lead," he says.

For about 1.5 billion people on the planet, every hour is Earth Hour. And that's at the heart of the problem. Astonishing economic growth in China and now India is dragging millions out of poverty, giving them electricity and water, and in the process adding incrementally to the release of greenhouse gases. China is expected to become the largest emitter of greenhouse gases by the end of the decade. Emissions from developing economies are nearly equal to those from developed economies, and bigger if you include land clearing.

Accelerated retro-fitting of the world's energy supply while simultaneously developing and installing new technologies is a mind-boggling exercise. For Australia the problem is magnified: our economy is still highly dependent on low-cost fossil fuels. The economic pain implicit in such a reform program has the late-moving Howard Government wincing as it rolls out a suite of symbolic measures to buy time until it can find a policy pathway that can neutralise the issue in the lead-up to this year's election. First it was a ban on incandescent light bulbs; this week it's a $200million, five-year plan to help developing countries slow land clearing, said to contribute about 20 per cent of greenhouse emissions.

Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists spokesman Peter Cosier says such initiatives are always welcome, but attempts by developed countries during the past two decades to curb land clearing have not been particularly effective. "This will not end the clearing of tropical forests," he tells Inquirer. "That will still continue. The question is at what rate and at what scale."

This reminds us that poverty is a key enemy of the environment. The head of the University of Melbourne's school of forests and ecosystems, Rod Keenan, says such measures can merely shift land clearing to other countries without the right institutional structures to create incentives in the developing world. "The challenge is going to be in the implementation. While many people have tried to tackle the issues around sustainable forest management and illegal logging over the past 10 to 20 years, the impact of those activities has generally been pretty small," he says.

Federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd is equally happy to stick with symbolism for now, as he tries to retain his early high ground on climate change while not spooking business by locking in expensive and unworkable solutions. This week he offered to upgrade the solar cells rebate scheme for households, one of the most symbolic, expensive and inequitable subsidies in the climate change space. Existing technology comes at a starting price of $12,000 per household less a partial rebate, with a 12 to 15-year payback in power savings, and as such household solar panels using existing photovoltaic technology remain an indulgence rather than a serious solution. But better technology may be on the way.

Federal Labor's climate change summit with the states in Canberra today will be a full house, with strong attendance from industry, science and the environmental movement. While gathering such a broad church is a political coup, keeping them in the same tent may be more problematic. It's hard to see how either Rudd or Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett can reconcile the deep concerns of the coal and metals processing industries with the aspirations of the Wilderness Society or the Australia Institute.

Labor will be encouraged that all sections of the policy spectrum see it increasingly as a serious player and potential post-November government. But, like a meeting of the Hatfields and McCoys, keeping these fiercely opposing sides from derailing the symbolism of consensus building that Rudd is hoping to create may prove more difficult. Rudd is already working hard to open up Labor's existing three mines policy at next month's national conference. Climate change may yet become a more thorny challenge for his leadership and credibility with middle Australia, which might be happy to turn its lights off for an hour, but is unlikely to have much appetite for policies that risk keeping them off.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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